Why does Easter follow the lunar calendar and Christmas the solar?

Easter, which commemorates Jesus's resurrection--for those who believe that--falls on a different day every year because it is based on the lunar calendar. It falls on the Sunday following the first full moon of spring. This year, the first day of spring was March 20, the full moon will be on March 29, and Easter on April 4.

Christmas, on the other hand, is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus--again, for those who believe that. It falls on the same day every year, December 25, a few days after the winter solstice.

I understand both days are quite holy in the Christian religions. I don't know too much about the religious aspects, as I grew up Jewish and am now a secular humanist. But why is one calculated per the lunar calendar and the other per the solar?


And yes, I know both are based on pagan holidays.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Easter is the earlier festival going back to a time when most Christians came from a Jewish background (yes, lots of Jews did become Christian). The New Testament records that Christ died and rose again about Passover time so early Christians would celebrate the resurrection either during Passover or on the following Sunday - the Sunday won out. The problem was that, because of the destruction of the temple, Jews in different places did not agree about when Passover should be, neither when the new moon had been seen nor about when to add an extra month. The Christian church decided to work out the date for themselves so the exact link was broken, though this year Easter is on the Sunday after Passover.

    Christmas came later and the date was set in Rome where most Christians were Gentiles so they chose a date by their solar calendar.

  • 4 years ago

    Easter Lunar Calendar

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Why? Because of Christianity's origins in Jewish Palestine. The bible tells us that Christ died and rose again around the time of the Jewish Passover. Hence early Christians, many of whom were originally Jews, celebrated Easter at the same time as the Jewish Passover. Christians, however, celebrated Christ every Sunday so many of them celebrated Easter, not exactly at Passover but on the Sunday following. This became the custom of the Church following the Council of Nicaea in the early 4th century. It was nothing to do with paganism. The Jews use a lunar calendar - each month begins with a new moon. Passover is on the 14th Nissan - the first month of spring so Passover is always 14 days after the first full moon of spring. However, Jews in different countries saw the new moon on different days so celebrated Passover on different days. The Church wanted everyone to celebrate Easter on the SAME day so it came up with its own independent formula which was the same everywhere 1. Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox; 2. this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and 3. the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21. The RC church now uses the Astronomical full moon as observed from Jerusalem.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Check out this article it may answer your question.

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  • 4 years ago

    Not sure about this

  • 5 years ago

    Not sure what to say

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