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Melisande
05-17-2007, 01:44 AM
Before anything else I wish to state that the following is not an attack on the Christian faith. It is a philosophical/hypothetical question, and I mean no disrespect to anyone by bringing it up.

I am currently writing a story about how people are creating the world around them, and Easter has become an important part of the plot. I have done some research and I have found the historical reasons for the calculation of Easter’s position in the yearly calendar. Here, for instance; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter) . I can not, however, find subjective, emotional and personal reactions to these questions there and that is why I ask the members of AW.

I myself am a non-believer; I do not celebrate Easter; to me personally it is of little consequence when Easter is celebrated. But in my WIP, these are some of the questions that have surfaced;

The fact that the calculations for when to celebrate Easter are the same as the calculations for the Jewish Passover, is that something Christians in general know, and/or care about?

Does it matter to you that Easter is celebrated at different dates the same year, depending on whether you live in the “Eastern” or “Western” world? The calculations differ somewhat in the Greek Orthodox Church.

Would you find it blasphemous to contemplate a fixed date for Easter, based on for instance, calculations made by a computer as to which date Passover was the year 0?

Do you think you would accept it, if the Vatican was to change this long tradition, and decide to create a fixed date for Easter in the calendar, even if you are a Christian of a different denomination than Catholic?

Would you oppose such a decision if it was political instead?

Have you ever thought about these facts at all, or do you simply accept status quo?

I thank you in advance.

alaskamatt17
05-17-2007, 01:54 AM
I knew about the Passover calculation connection. I would not object to changing Easter to a fixed date, as long as it was not due to political reasons, and as long as it did not cause a great rift between different Christian denominations.

I didn't know about different dates in the East and West. That's interesting.

MattW
05-17-2007, 02:16 AM
I also knew about the Passover connection, there's no denying the Jewish roots of Christianity.

I imagine the Vatican could do it, but so much that they are criticized for relies on tradition that I doubt they would change something like this on it's own. Probably as part of a Vatican III (but not this Pope, or the next two).

There are some well founded arguments that Jesus wasn't really born in December, but changing that would be unfathomable, even if it is inaccurate.

If I were a Protestant, I would not much care what the Vatican does. I'm familiar with a few denominations that retain much of the Catholic mass, Biblical structure, and organization while not explaining how it all came to be through Catholic councils of the early Church.

Shwebb
05-17-2007, 03:09 AM
Makes no difference to me. After all, Christmas isn't really Jesus' actual birthday, and it has more references to a druid or Pagan origin than to a Christian one.

And modern Easter has them, too--from the name "Easter" to the fertility symbols like eggs, rabbits, and chicks.

theengel
05-17-2007, 03:09 AM
Generally speaking, the only ones who care a whole lot about the celebration date of Easter are the ones who have made it a key point in distancing themselves from traditional Christianity. For most...not a big deal.

I can't really see the Vatican changing the date. I'm not sure I'd care if they did.

MoneyMakinMama
05-17-2007, 03:12 AM
Melisande, great questions! I don't know if my answers are what you're looking for, but maybe you'll find them helpful:

(My answers are in bold print)

The fact that the calculations for when to celebrate Easter are the same as the calculations for the Jewish Passover, is that something Christians in general know, and/or care about? Yes, most Christians know this. Since Christ is viewed as the Sacrificial Lamb of Passover, there is no conflict for them here. (See King James Version of the Bible - 1 Corinthians 5:7 and Revelations 5:11)

Does it matter to you that Easter is celebrated at different dates the same year, depending on whether you live in the “Eastern” or “Western” world? The calculations differ somewhat in the Greek Orthodox Church. No, it doesn't matter to me. But then, I am a Believer who doesn't care to celebrate Easter at all since learning that the Easter holiday is of pagan origin (Google origins of Easter if you wish to learn more). I believe in the resurrection of Christ, but since the bible never taught us to celebrate it with a holiday, nor did the apostles or early Believers do so, I'm not inclined to set aside a day to do so either. His resurrection is celebrated in my daily life through my faith and my walk. I have heard Christians debate dates of His resurrection, but I don't think it's a major point of contention for most. That He is risen is all most who do celebrate the holiday are concerned with. You may find it interesting to note that the one place Easter is mentioned in the Bible (in Acts 12:4 of the King James Version), it is actually referring to passover.

Your next 3 questions are of little issue to me seeing as I'm not into the whole holiday thing to begin with. One note, however, as to the issue of the Vatican, that would be a question specifically for Catholics since other Christian denominations don't directly follow the Vatican (and many of them will even argue that Catholics aren't Christian). There are strong anti-Catholic (church/Vatican) sentiments among many Christians.

Which brings us to your last question. Yes, I have thought about it a lot. I've prayed about it, studied it, talked to others about it and my conclusions have all led me not to accept the status quo.

WildScribe
05-17-2007, 03:15 AM
I am not Christian, so I cannot answer most of your questions. I do know that Easter is so named at least partly because of the pagan holiday Ostara, which is the springtime fertility festival. As with Christmas, the church tried to replace existing pagan festivals by renaming them and sainting them, etc. Good luck!

theengel
05-17-2007, 06:38 AM
I am not Christian, so I cannot answer most of your questions. I do know that Easter is so named at least partly because of the pagan holiday Ostara, which is the springtime fertility festival. As with Christmas, the church tried to replace existing pagan festivals by renaming them and sainting them, etc. Good luck!


Or converting them...The Catholics are firm believers in allowing cultures to hang on to their traditions, but changing them enough to honor God.

James M M Baldwin
05-17-2007, 07:34 AM
When the church decided to randomly chose the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, I don't think it was of any specific importance other than to counter the pagan fertility ritual. I really don't think it matters to a true believer what the specific date a holy day falls on. It's the substance of the celebration that matters.

Soccer Mom
05-17-2007, 09:04 AM
Easter is tied to the date of Passover because the two holidays are firmly intertwined. The last supper was a seder meal. Keeping the dates together is a reminder of the Jewish roots of Christianity.

Sean D. Schaffer
05-17-2007, 09:28 AM
Snipped...

The fact that the calculations for when to celebrate Easter are the same as the calculations for the Jewish Passover, is that something Christians in general know, and/or care about?

I didn't know this until just a few years ago. I was raised Baptist and I don't think I remember there being a lot of emphasis on Christianity's Jewish roots in the churches I attended.


Does it matter to you that Easter is celebrated at different dates the same year, depending on whether you live in the “Eastern” or “Western” world? The calculations differ somewhat in the Greek Orthodox Church.

It never mattered to me. I never even knew this little piece of information. This is the first I've heard of it.


Would you find it blasphemous to contemplate a fixed date for Easter, based on for instance, calculations made by a computer as to which date Passover was the year 0?

Nope.


Do you think you would accept it, if the Vatican was to change this long tradition, and decide to create a fixed date for Easter in the calendar, even if you are a Christian of a different denomination than Catholic?

I don't think I'd give it much thought, Melisande, as I'm no longer a Christian, per se. However, when I was a Baptist, I don't remember there being any protest to changing the dates of Easter.


Would you oppose such a decision if it was political instead?

That I probably would oppose. My reason is that the government, at least in my country, is not supposed to be making religious decisions. It would be wrong, by the standards of our own government's policies, for the government to make such a decision.


Have you ever thought about these facts at all, or do you simply accept status quo?

I thank you in advance. I've thought about these facts recently, but as far as the actual holiday goes, I would probably not worry about when Easter takes place or whatever. But this is in part due to my religious convictions having changed drastically since this past December. The idea of a holiday being celebrated on a different day than normal has never really hit home before, and I don't think, at least in the case of Easter, I would care when it was celebrated.

To me, it's kind of like Thanksgiving here in the States. It's not on a fixed date, either, but rather on, I think, the fourth Thursday of November. To me Easter has never been more holy than any other holiday. I only know I have looked forward to it every time the season comes around.


I hope this helps with your WIP. Good luck to you.

:)

benbradley
05-17-2007, 10:01 AM
Before anything else I wish to state that the following is not an attack on the Christian faith. It is a philosophical/hypothetical question, and I mean no disrespect to anyone by bringing it up.
I'm resisting commenting on this, not sure I can resist, except that it, and any comments I would make about it, have absolutely nothing to do with the main thrust of your questions.

Whew, that was close!
Would you find it blasphemous to contemplate a fixed date for Easter, based on for instance, calculations made by a computer as to which date Passover was the year 0?
Just to correct this (since you feel it's important enough to ask these other questions, and I agree it's important, you certainly want to get this right too), there is no Year 0. The year 1 BC was the year leading up to Christ's birth, and the next year was 1 AD. the first year after Christ's birth. This makes every new decade, century and millenium start with a year number ending in the digit 1. Thus the Third Millenium started in the year 2001, rather than, as many people believe, the year 2000 (start with the first year being 1, add 2,000 years, you're at the year 2001).
Here's a few online references for the missing Year 0 I pulled out of Google:
http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52475.html
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/millennium.html
Well okay, in some cases (though not in commonly used Western calendars) there's a Year 0:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_zero

benbradley
05-17-2007, 10:34 AM
Easter is tied to the date of Passover because the two holidays are firmly intertwined. The last supper was a seder meal. Keeping the dates together is a reminder of the Jewish roots of Christianity.
I presume "the last supper" is also known as The Lord's Supper? Then presumably instead of asking about Passover on "year 0" the OP should be asking about the date of Passover in the year 33AD or whatever year The Lord's Supper was.

Maybe we could ask Dan Brown....
<ducking>

TsukiRyoko
05-17-2007, 10:45 AM
Easter has no fixed date, Jesus was probably black, and I'm sure that any holy greater being would look down on religious groups we have today. Thank you and good night.

Medievalist
05-17-2007, 11:13 AM
Err . . . there have been, and are, several methods of calculating Easter: here's a link regarding the last major controversy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Whitby). Here's another (http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/whitby.html). Greek and Russian and Armenian churches have a different date.

Melisande
05-17-2007, 08:09 PM
I'm resisting commenting on this, not sure I can resist, except that it, and any comments I would make about it, have absolutely nothing to do with the main thrust of your questions.

Whew, that was close!

Just to correct this (since you feel it's important enough to ask these other questions, and I agree it's important, you certainly want to get this right too), there is no Year 0. The year 1 BC was the year leading up to Christ's birth, and the next year was 1 AD. the first year after Christ's birth. This makes every new decade, century and millenium start with a year number ending in the digit 1. Thus the Third Millenium started in the year 2001, rather than, as many people believe, the year 2000 (start with the first year being 1, add 2,000 years, you're at the year 2001).
Here's a few online references for the missing Year 0 I pulled out of Google:
http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52475.html
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/millennium.html
Well okay, in some cases (though not in commonly used Western calendars) there's a Year 0:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_zero

That was interesting and I will certainly check those links. Thank you for clarifying. And automatically, for correctness, this question turns up; Which year would be appropriate to calculate the day of Easter?

Melisande
05-17-2007, 08:10 PM
Thank you all for your answers.

Medievalist
05-17-2007, 09:21 PM
Google Easter Tables.

batgirl
05-17-2007, 11:27 PM
Err . . . there have been, and are, several methods of calculating Easter: here's a link regarding the last major controversy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Whitby). Here's another (http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/whitby.html). Greek and Russian and Armenian churches have a different date.
Not to mention the many different dates that marked the changing of the year. For a while the New Year began at Easter - just to really confuse everyone. Oh, and that not every culture, not even every Christian culture, dated their years from the presumed date of Christ's birth.
-Barbara (who has no sense of time)

Plot Device
05-19-2007, 09:37 AM
The fact that the calculations for when to celebrate Easter are the same as the calculations for the Jewish Passover, is that something Christians in general know, and/or care about?

Yes. I knew that. Jesus was killed on the Friday before Passover. So Easter "needs" to be that same weekend every year. Do I care? Um ... well, I think it's good to try and be accurate with dates and such. But do I REALLY REALLY care?? Not really.


Does it matter to you that Easter is celebrated at different dates the same year, depending on whether you live in the “Eastern” or “Western” world? The calculations differ somewhat in the Greek Orthodox Church.

Does it matter to me? Not really. I don't think it matters to God either. Jesus said we must remember his death via communion. Celebrating an approximate anniversary of his resurrection every year isn't a requirement. But it's certainly valid. And I don't think the date matters at all.

Some people feel the Christian religion is somehow splintered by the diverse dates. But I don't really get too concerned by that.


Would you find it blasphemous to contemplate a fixed date for Easter, based on for instance, calculations made by a computer as to which date Passover was the year 0?

Blasphemous??? No. I really don't think God himself gives a rip, so we shouldn't either.


I would actually find it more convenient. Christmas is always the same numeric date (always the 25th) but Christmas never falls on the same day of the week, so that's kind of annoying. Easter is always a Sunday, so that's sort of reliable. But it's never the same Sunday, and not even the same month (sometimes March, sometimes April) and so it's very haphazard.

Thanksgiving, however, is always on a Thursday, and always the 4th Thursday of the month, so Thanksgiving tends to be a far more reliable and stable holiday in my eyes than Christmas or Easter.

Getting back to Christmas ... whenever Christmas falls on a Sunday, there's this pressure to go to church. But I don't wanna go to church on Christmas! I wanna hang out all morning in my pajamas and walk around in the big dumb stupid novelty slippers I got as a joke present and have a nice lazy and very late brunch and spend time with my family. Most Sunday mornings are always about rushing around and getting dressed up and trying to make it to church on time. I don't want that rushed feeling on Christmas morning, nor do I wanna have to put on nice clothes. And that's another reason why I like Thanksgiving so much more than Christmas--Thanksgiving is JUST home and JUST family and I can wear jeans and just hang out and eat and watch the parade on TV. So I hate when Christmas falls on a Sunday.

Easter falls on a Sunday every single time. So again there's this pressure to get dressed and go to church when I'd rather just stay home with family. I wanna do the egg hunt and have a late lazy brunch and then a really nice late-afternoon formal sit-down meal of either ham or lamb. Church is almost four hours out of my day (a two hour service, half an hour each way, and then the whole dressing up thing). That's too much time when I just want to spend it with my family.


Do you think you would accept it, if the Vatican was to change this long tradition, and decide to create a fixed date for Easter in the calendar, even if you are a Christian of a different denomination than Catholic?

The Vatican can do what they want. I really don't care. (I'm not Catholic, btw). Would the Protestant world follow along with the Vatican in the event the Vatican changed the date? Hard to say.

I didn't care when they changed Washington's Birthday to President's Day. But I did care when they eliminated President's Day entirely. That wasn't cool.

I wouldn't care if they changed the date of observance of Easter. Yet I would mind very much if they eliminated Easter's observance entirely. To eliminate Easter would be to erradicate Christianity completely.

Would you oppose such a decision if it was political instead?

I can't imagine what sort of politics (other than money) would go into such a decision.


Have you ever thought about these facts at all, or do you simply accept status quo?

I have indeed thought about ALL of the above. I once looked up on the internet what was involved in the calculation for Easter. Very complicated!

I feel guilty about not liking Christmas as much as Thanksgiving. And I like Easter even less. Now I am fully aware that the heart of the whole Christian religion is the resurrection of Jesus. But the holiday called Easter isn't very enjoyable to me as far as holidays go. And I always have to justify this to my Christian friends and family. And my justifcation is: I want to be with family, not running to church.

L M Ashton
05-19-2007, 08:39 PM
The fact that the calculations for when to celebrate Easter are the same as the calculations for the Jewish Passover, is that something Christians in general know, and/or care about?I certainly knew about that, but don't know how commonly known it is.

Does it matter to you that Easter is celebrated at different dates the same year, depending on whether you live in the “Eastern” or “Western” world? The calculations differ somewhat in the Greek Orthodox Church. Nope, doesn't matter.

Would you find it blasphemous to contemplate a fixed date for Easter, based on for instance, calculations made by a computer as to which date Passover was the year 0?Doesn't matter.

Do you think you would accept it, if the Vatican was to change this long tradition, and decide to create a fixed date for Easter in the calendar, even if you are a Christian of a different denomination than Catholic?If my church accepted it, then I would follow that. But honestly, the Vatican has no authority over anyone other than Catholics.

Would you oppose such a decision if it was political instead?Uh, yeah. Politics and religion should remain separate.

Have you ever thought about these facts at all, or do you simply accept status quo?

Yeah, thought about it, but honestly, the date itself doesn't matter. Just like going to church would be fine if it were changed to Saturday, Friday, or Wednesday.

Evaine
05-20-2007, 05:36 PM
Just a thought for those up-thread who think that Easter's date was randomly chosen by the Church - for the early Christians it was supremely important to celebrate Easter on the right day - that is, the actual anniversary of a real death (followed, of course, by the Resurrection). If it wasn't for all those monks calculating like mad, we would not have the dating system that we now take for granted - and some of those monks did try calculating from the year of the Last Supper, so it all gets very confused. Even more confused when they were also dating things as "the third year of the reign of King x" in the mundane world around the monasteries.

Jamesaritchie
05-20-2007, 07:21 PM
As a Christian, it doesn't matter to me what date Easter falls on, only that it falls and is celebrated for the right reasons. But I see no reason at all to change the current method of dating it.

The Pope can do as he pleases, but he has zero say, zero control, and zero influence on anyone other than Catholics, so such a decision would really not matter to most of us. Though I can't imagine the Pope making such a change.

But I will say it's not really accurate to say that either Easter or Christmas has pagan roots. The pagan trappings are a way of fighting paganism, not an honor to it.

And any church, Baptist of not, that teaches from the Old Testament, is honoring the Jewish ancestry of Christianity.

If it were a political decision, I would fight it, but not because of separation of church and state. No matter how much people claim it's so, separation of church and state is impossible. The original point of "separation" of church and state is so the state may not control religion, not to keep religion out of state.

A Christian does not change his beliefs because he holds office, and these beliefs affect every decision he makes. The number of ministers in congress is large, and the number of Christians is even larger, so I doubt there's any chance the date of Easter will be changed to a fixed date in this country anytime soon.

Medievalist
05-20-2007, 08:59 PM
I am not Christian, so I cannot answer most of your questions. I do know that Easter is so named at least partly because of the pagan holiday Ostara, which is the springtime fertility festival. As with Christmas, the church tried to replace existing pagan festivals by renaming them and sainting them, etc. Good luck!

Oy. There's a single reference, just one, to Ostera, in Bede . . . it's sorta not really taken all that seriously.

Sean D. Schaffer
05-21-2007, 05:34 AM
Oy. There's a single reference, just one, to Ostera, in Bede . . . it's sorta not really taken all that seriously.


Interesting. I had heard Easter was originally named after the goddess Ishtar.

That's what I get for listening to rumors.

ideagirl
05-22-2007, 02:38 AM
Oy. There's a single reference, just one, to Ostera, in Bede . . . it's sorta not really taken all that seriously.

Depends. Bede's reference is pretty unambiguous, and at least some medievalists (see abstract (http://home.vicnet.net.au/%7Emedieval/pastconferences/2005/abstracts2005.html#cusack)) have studied it in some depth...

The Venerable Bede (d. 735) in De Temporum Ratione (On the Reckoning of Time), chapter xv 'The English Month' states that: Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated 'Paschal month', and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.