When Is Easter?

Why the Date of Easter Changes Every Year

Resurrection Cross

shutterjack / Getty Images

Since the earliest days of church history, determining the date of Easter has been a challenge. As a moveable feast, Easter can fall anywhere March 22 and April 25 in Western Christianity.

This calendar of import Easter dates includes both Western and Eastern church dates. Present and future dates are listed first and then past dates further below.

When Is Easter 2021?

Before 325 A.D., Easter was celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox. In 325 A.D., at the Council of Nicaea, the Western Church resolved to establish a more standardized system for determining the date of Easter.

Why Does Easter Change Every Year?

Since the days of early church history, determining the precise date of Easter has been a matter for continued argument. For one, the followers of Christ neglected to record the exact date of Jesus' resurrection. From that point on the matter only grew increasingly more complex.

At the heart of the matter lies a simple explanation. Easter is a movable feast. The earliest believers in the church of Asia Minor wished to keep the observance of Easter correlated to the Jewish Passover. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened after the Passover, so followers wanted Easter always to be celebrated after the Passover. And, since the Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, each feast day is movable, with dates shifting from year to year.

The Lunar Impact on Easter

As astronomers were able to approximate the dates of all the full moons in future years, the Western Christian Church used these calculations to establish a table of Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. These dates would determine all of the Holy Days on the Ecclesiastical calendar.

Although modified marginally from its original form, by 1583 A.D. the table for determining the Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates was permanently established and has been used ever since to determine the date of Easter. According to the Ecclesiastical tables, the Paschal Full Moon is the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon date after March 20 (which happened to be the vernal equinox date in 325 A.D.). Thus, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.

The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity.

Easter.jpg
Source: Pixabay

Eastern vs. Western Easter Dates

Historically, Western churches used the Gregorian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter and Eastern Orthodox churches used the Julian Calendar. This was partly why the dates were seldom the same.

Easter and its related holidays do not fall on a fixed date in either the Gregorian or Julian calendars, making them movable holidays. The dates, instead, are based on a lunar calendar very similar to the Hebrew Calendar.

While some Eastern Orthodox Churches not only maintain the date of Easter based on the Julian Calendar which was in use during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., they also use the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual vernal equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem. This complicates the matter, due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar, and the 13 days that have accrued since the year A.D. 325. and means, in order to stay in line with the originally established (325 A.D.) vernal equinox, Orthodox Easter cannot be celebrated before April 3 (present-day Gregorian calendar), which was March 21 in A.D. 325.

Additionally, in keeping with the rule established by the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, the Eastern Orthodox Church adhered to the tradition that Easter must always fall after the Jewish Passover since the resurrection of Christ happened after the celebration of Passover.

Eventually, the Orthodox Church came up with an alternative to calculating Easter based on the Gregorian calendar and Passover, by developing a 19-year cycle, as opposed to the Western Church's 84-year cycle.

Future Easter Dates

  • Easter 2022 Dates
  • March 2 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 10 - Palm Sunday
  • April 14 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 15 - Good Friday
  • April 17 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 24 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2023 Dates

  • February 22 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 2 - Palm Sunday
  • April 6 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 7 - Good Friday
  • April 9 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 16 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2024 Dates

  • February 14 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 24 - Palm Sunday
  • March 28 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • March 29 - Good Friday
  • March 31 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • May 5 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2025 Dates

  • March 5 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 13 - Palm Sunday
  • April 17 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 18 - Good Friday
  • April 20 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 20 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2026 Dates

  • February 18 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 29 - Palm Sunday
  • April 2 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 3 - Good Friday
  • April 5 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 12 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)
Greek Easter Bread
Jupiterimages / Getty Images

Past Easter Dates

Easter 2019 Dates

  • March 6 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 14 - Palm Sunday
  • April 18 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 19 - Good Friday
  • April 21 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 28 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2018 Dates

  • February 14 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 25 - Palm Sunday
  • March 29 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • March 30 - Good Friday
  • April 1 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 8 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2017 Dates

  • March 1 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 9 - Palm Sunday
  • April 13 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 14 - Good Friday
  • April 16 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 16 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2016 Dates

  • February 10 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 20 - Palm Sunday
  • March 24 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • March 25 - Good Friday
  • March 27 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • May 1 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2015 Dates

  • February 18 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 29 - Palm Sunday
  • April 2 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 3 - Good Friday
  • April 5 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 12 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2014 Dates

  • March 5 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 13 - Palm Sunday
  • April 17 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 18 - Good Friday
  • April 20 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 20 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2013 Dates

  • February 13 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 24 - Palm Sunday
  • March 28 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • March 29 - Good Friday
  • March 31 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • May 5 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2012 Dates

  • February 22 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 1 - Palm Sunday
  • April 5 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 6 - Good Friday
  • April 8 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 15 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2011 Dates

  • March 9 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 17 - Palm Sunday
  • April 21 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 22 - Good Friday
  • April 24 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 24 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2010 Dates

  • February 17 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 28 - Palm Sunday
  • April 1 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 2 - Good Friday
  • April 4 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 4 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2009 Dates

  • February 25 - Ash Wednesday
  • April 5 - Palm Sunday
  • April 9 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • April 10 - Good Friday
  • April 12 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 19 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)

Easter 2008 Dates

  • February 6 - Ash Wednesday
  • March 16 - Palm Sunday
  • March 20 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
  • March 21 - Good Friday
  • March 23 - Easter Sunday (Western Christianity - Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches, etc.)
  • April 27 - Orthodox Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Churches)