The date of Easter is connected to the Jewish date for Passover. Passover is celebrated on the first full moon following March 20th, the vernal equinox in the Gregorian calendar (pay no attention to the fact that the date of the vernal equinox can occasionally be March 21st, but don’t ask me to explain that). The council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the first major all-church council of the church, decided that Easter should occur on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the vernal equinox (this is the same church council that established the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed). However, Easter is delayed by one week if the first full moon after the vernal equinox lands on a Sunday in order to not have Easter and Passover on the same day (no wonder no one ever asked). This means that Easter can occur as early as March 22, or as late as April 25. The importance of the full moon in the Jewish calendar is a hold over from the days of the lunar calendar, when the dates for the Jewish Holy Days were determined by the lunar cycle.
So this year, the full moon will happen on Wednesday, March 23, only three days after the vernal equinox, which means Easter is celebrated on Sunday, March 27th. There has been some effort to fix the date for Easter on the same day each year but nothing has ever been officially adopted. For example, one proposed reform occurred in the United Kingdom, where the Easter Act 1928 was established to allow the Easter date to be fixed as the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. However, this law was not implemented, although it remains on the UK Statute Law Database.
For full disclosure, if you were a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which still uses the Julian calendar among a few other dating variances, you would celebrate Easter this year on May 1st. Clearly there has been a great degree of reform and variation through the years on the topic of how we mark the passage of time. Even this year, February will have an extra day in order to insure that the time it takes for our globe to circle the sun remains accurate and constant. It is my personal opinion that every four years, February 29th should be celebrated as a national paid holiday. Let’s start a movement.