Why Christmas Day is fixed and Easter is movable

Why Christmas Day is fixed and Easter is movable

Easter is a movable feast which falls on Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. Easter follows the Jewish tradition of Passover which begins on the full moon. Christmas is fixed every year and falls on the same date as it is a tradition followed on that specific day when Jesus the Messiah was born. The date of 25th December was chosen for Christmas as it corresponds to the pagan festival that took place at the same time. Both Easter and Christmas are Christian festivals merged with pagan holidays of earlier times.

Christmas is tied to solar calendar which is the Gregorian calendar and is movement of the Sun. Easter is tied to lunar calendar and depends on the phases of the Moon. Countries like Europe, America uses Gregorian calendar (Solar Calendar) while the Jewish and traditional Islamic calendars are lunar calendars. Jesus was crucified at the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated according to the lunar calendar.

Pagan roots of Easter and Christmas

The changing of seasons and phases of the moon have always had significance in pagan belief and practice. Each spring as the world reawakened, pagan worshipers observed a feast for Beltane. Springtime is all about fertility, and new life, and… you don’t want me to go into it here. That’s what the eggs are about. In simplest terms, the early Christians were well aware that a big party was going on that they were not allowed to participate in. So rather than worship Beltane, they decided to have their own celebration – scheduled to coincide with the Beltane rituals – and make it about Jesus. That’s why our celebration of Easter is all mixed up between sermons of resurrection and the coloring and hiding of eggs. “We” took a pagan holiday and Christianized it; we stole Easter from pagans.

The same with Christmas. Why is it on December 25th? The dates for Easter and Christmas were set long ago, well before the Protestant Reformation by the Catholic Church. That ought to be enough to send fundamentalists over the edge, who don’t believe Christians existed prior to Protestantism and that the Bible was written in 1611. The first day of winter, just like spring, was a significant marker on the pagan calendar. I’m going to close with a passage of scripture from Jeremiah 10. My dad quoted this each year when we asked about a Christmas tree. Like the holiday itself, we Christianized the tree.

Easter and Christmas

The date of the religious holidays of Passover and Easter are defined in terms of the lunar phases occurring after the first day of spring, or the date of the sun’s passage over the vernal equinox point in the sky. This passage date is often referred to as the spring equinox or vernal equinox. The familiar celebration of Chinese New Year is set annually as the date of the second new moon phase after the winter solstice, the date of the sun’s most southerly position in the sky. The Muslim holy season of Ramadan begins with the first actual sighting of the new moon at the start of the ninth month (Ramadan) in the Muslim calendar.

Christmas sometimes is characterized as a season, the religious period beginning with Advent at the beginning of December and the 12 days of Christmas from Christmas Day through Epiphany, the celebration of the arrival of the magi to see the baby Jesus. Easter also has a season, starting with Ash Wednesday and continuing through Lent. And for some denominations, there is a week of introspection, starting with Palm Sunday, moving to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and ending with Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, as some prefer to call it.

Christmas, is a holiday of light and joy, while Easter evokes the darkness of Jesus tomb and his battle with Satan. Easter story is to get hope whereas Christmas is a time for family.

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.