When Is Easter Sunday? 2021 Holiday Dates
- Contributing Writers Edited by Liz Auld
- 2020 4 Mar
- Easter this year will be on Sunday, April 4, 2021. The Easter date changes each year.
- Easter Sunday is determined by the first full moon of spring, the Paschal Moon.
- Easter and it's surrounding Christian holidays including Lent, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday are movable holidays depending on the vernal equinox.
Easter is one of the most well-known holidays in modern times, and just like Christmas, Easter is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. When you think of the Easter holiday different things may come to mind: church services, crosses draped in purple, outreach activities, spring weather, Easter egg hunts and painting eggs, filling baskets with candy and small gifts, and possibly the Easter bunny. Because of the mixture of gospel celebration and commercialism, Easter is celebrated under different definitions by a variety of people all over the world. As with Christmas, Easter presents an opportunity for conversation and hospitality to talk about the true meaning of the holiday and why Christians continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Future Easter Sunday Dates:
- April 17, 2022
- April 9, 2023
- March 31, 2024
- April 20, 2025
- April 5, 2026
How is the Date of Easter Determined and Why Does it Change?
The Council of Nicea in the 4th Century decided that Easter would fall on the first Sunday following the first full moon of Spring, the Paschal Moon. This is why Easter Sunday can fall anytime between mid-March and mid-April. If the Paschall moon, the first full moon of spring, happens on a Sunday then Easter would be celebrated the following Sunday.
Get your free Easter Prayer and Scripture Guide to reflect on the meaning and importance of Christ's resurrection.
Do Most Americans Celebrate Easter?
Based on a Statista survey, Forbes.com reported that 84% of Americans intended to celebrate Easter in 2018. While that seems like a very high percent, this intended celebration included both secular and religious motives. Forbes went on to share,
"All of that candy aside, what do people consider the most important thing about Easter? The survey found that family comes first and foremost with 47 percent of respondents considering it the most important aspect of the holiday. The religious meaning comes second with 36 percent while those exciting Easter egg hunts are in third position with 6 percent."
According, to the Statista survey the most popular Easter custom was giving baskets of candy, followed by egg hunts, painting eggs, and then church visits. So what is Easter about? Is it about candy and gifts or something greater?
What Is Easter & When Did it Start?
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter is the fulfilled prophecy of the Messiah who would be persecuted, die for our sins, and rise on the third day. (Isaiah 53). Remembering the resurrection of Jesus is a way to renew daily hope that we have victory over sin. Read the Biblical account of Resurrection Day in Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24 and more Easter Bible verses at BibleStudyTools.com.
The early Christians began remembering the Resurrection every Sunday following its occurrence. In A.D. 325, the Council of Nicaea set aside a special day just to celebrate the Resurrection. The problem with an official day was deciding whether the Resurrection should be celebrated on a weekday or always on a Sunday.
Many felt that the date should continue to be based on the timing of the Resurrection during Passover. Once Jewish leaders determined the date of Passover each year, Christian leaders could set the date for Easter by figuring three days after Passover. Following this schedule would have meant that Easter would be a different day of the week each year, only falling on a Sunday once in a while.
Others believed since the Lord rose on a Sunday and this day had been set aside as the Lord’s Day, this was the only possible day to celebrate His resurrection. As Christianity drew away from Judaism, some were reluctant to base the Christian celebration on the Jewish calendar. Finally, the Council decided Easter should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Since the date of the vernal equinox changed from year to year, calculating the proper date can be difficult. This is still the method used to determine Easter today, which is why some years we have Easter earlier than other years.
—"What is Easter & When Did it Start" is excerpted from What Is Easter: Understanding the History & Symbols by Susan E. Richardson . . . read more on Crosswalk.com.
When Did Jesus Rise from the Grave? - Was it a Literal 3 Days?
“Precisely when did Jesus rise from the dead? This will probably come as a shock to many of you, but he could conceivably have been raised any time after sunset on Saturday night. Remember that the Jews reckoned their days from sunset to sunset. Therefore, what you and I would typically regard as Saturday night was for them Sunday. How then can it be said that Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights? Uninformed critics typically jump on this as a colossal mistake in the gospels. But according to Jewish reckoning, when it came to determining time, any part of a day was considered by them to be the whole day. In other words, although Jesus was in the grave only one or two hours on Friday, the Jews counted it as a whole day and night, 24 hours. Thus, Jesus could conceivably have been buried only 26 hours: one hour on Friday, twenty-four hours on Saturday (the Sabbath), and one hour on Sunday. And yet it could truly be said of him that he was in the grave “three days and three nights.” In sum, then, three days and nights need mean only the combination of any part of three separate days.
—"When Did Jesus Rise from the Grave? - Was it a Literal 3 Days?" is excerpted from 10 Things We Should Know about What Happened on Easter Sunday Morning, a reprint by Sam Storms . . . read more on Crosswalk.
What Does Easter Mean for Me Today?
Most people are surprised that the resurrection has anything to do with the present, but the Bible tells us that because Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave, He now gives us the same power that was used to bring Him back from the dead so that we can live our lives every day in resurrection power. Over and over again, we read that Jesus Christ has given us the power to live a special life. One especially encouraging passage, Ephesians 1:19-20, says, “What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” That means we have the same power available to us to live the Christian life that God used to bring Jesus Christ out of the grave. We struggle when we try to live the Christian life in our own power, in our own strength. But if we will depend on the power of God for help, He will give us the strength and power. We’re sinful, but He saves us. He changes us from being cruel, mean-spirited, hateful people, and we discover a desire to be kind, and loving, and gracious. We’re lustful and immoral, and He takes those emotions and those desires and changes them by the power of God in us. We become different people. The Bible says, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). How does that happen? It happens because Almighty God comes to live within us and fills us with the power of the resurrection.
—"What Does Easter Mean for Me Today" is excerpted from 3 Reasons the Resurrection is Important Today by David Jeremiah . . . read more on Crosswalk.com.
How to Focus on the True Meaning of Easter
-By opening up his Word, reading, meditating, especially about the story of Christ’s journey towards the cross and the Resurrection. All 4 Gospels give an account. Dig deep, ask questions, seek to learn all he has to say to your heart.
-By spending moments with him in prayer.
-By taking time to be quiet and still before him, just listening for his voice.
-By reflecting, remembering, thanking him for his gift of sacrifice made on our behalf.
-By praising God for the power of the Resurrection of Christ, for the promise of new life.
-By celebrating together with other believers.
An Easter Prayer from Matthew 28
“Do not be afraid," - God, I hand over to You those things that make me so afraid. Resurrect the parts of my faith squelched by fear.
"I know that you are looking for Jesus," - God, when my soul is searching, help me know the answer to every longing can be found in You.
"He has risen," - God, the fact that Jesus is risen should lift my head, my heart and my attitude. Help me to live today as if I really believe this with every part of my life.
"just as he said," - Jesus, You keep Your promises. Help me live as though I believe that with every part of me. Help me trust You more, obey You more and resemble You more.
"Come and see," - Jesus, You had the angels invite the women in to see for themselves that You had risen. You invite me into these personal revelations every day. Forgive me for sometimes rushing about and forgetting to come and see for myself ... You, Your Word, Your insights.
"Then go quickly and tell his disciples," - Jesus, I don't want to be a secret keeper with my faith. I want to be a bold and gracious truth proclaimer. For You. With You. Because of You. Me, the unwanted girl whom You loved, redeemed and wanted.
In Jesus' Name, Amen. - Lysa TerKeurst
—"An Easter Prayer from Matthew 28" is excerpted from Easter Prayers: Celebrate Resurrection Day Victory . . . read more on Crosswalk.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Bychykhin_Olexandr
This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!
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