One of the most common questions that brings people to the About Catholicism site, especially at this time of year, is "When is Easter?" But as an e-mail from a reader reminded me, different people mean different things when they ask, "When is Easter?"
Not surprisingly, most people mean, "When is Easter this year?" or more specifically, in the case of this year, "When is Easter 2014?" But some are looking for the date of Easter in other years, either in the future or even, surprisingly often, in the past.
But even some of those who do mean "When is Easter 2014?" are looking not for the date of Easter as celebrated by Catholics and Protestants—that is, Easter as calculated according to the Gregorian calendar—but Easter as celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox, calculated according to the Julian calendar.
And some even mean "How is the date of Easter calculated?" They want to know why the date of Easter changes from year to year, and why Catholics and Protestants usually celebrate it on a different date from the Eastern Orthodox.
The good news is that I have resources here on the About Catholicism site to explain each of these questions. And the even better news is that I've consolidated them all in one handy document entitled (appropriately) When Is Easter?
Check it out, and bookmark it for future use. And if there's another thing you might mean by the question "When is Easter?" that I haven't addressed in When Is Easter? simply leave a comment below, and I'll update the document.
(A statue of the risen Christ at Saint Mary Oratory, Rockford, Illinois. Photo © Scott P. Richert)