Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Way Back Wednesday

We have considered today's topic during the last year but we usually learn by repetition and today is a good day for that to happen.  Most people do not give the calendar's compilation too much thought.  Truly, about the only time we are date concerned is Leap Year, holidays and that dreaded time change, which DOES NOT add time to your day.

Julius Caesar had given us a calendar but the true problem with that calendar, it was several minutes longer than the actual year, would reveal itself in about a thousand years.  Every 400 years, the Julian Calendar would be off by 3 extra days.  By 1582, the calendar was off by 14 original days and was missing the Spring and Fall equinox by 10 days.  This was important because Easter is determined by the Spring Equinox.  This would be like us celebrating Christmas December 11.  It just would not "feel" right but to the Catholic Church, the exact day was extremely important and to some, it would be just outright wrong.

On this date in 1582, Pope Gregory issued the "order" that in October of that year, October 4th would be followed by October 15th in all Catholic countries.  The uneducated protested and wanted their "eleven" days back but that would not happen.  England would not adopt the new calendar until the year 1752 in which the American Colonies would also adopt it.  China, Russia and Japan would not adopt it until the 20th century which aided international business and important dates recognition.

We follow what is known as the Gregorian Calendar and it was given to us 434 years ago today though we didn't switch for almost another 200 years.

source:  christianity(dot)com
I am going to speak more technically now.

One of the things important to us today is to understand that Easter is seldom on the actual date the Resurrection actually took place.  Easter is a moveable holiday and is dependent upon the full moon and the Spring Equinox.  Our calendar is a solar calendar and does not align with the lunar calendar accounting for the difference in the date for Easter.  True Passover seldom aligns itself with Easter as well.  The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar(based on the moon).  The Jewish calendar adds an extra month when necessary to keep the Jewish Feasts aligned with the lunar cycle.  This means that the moon will ALWAYS be in the same place on a Jewish Holiday and if your calendar is lunar, this keeps the consistency throughout the years as time passes.  While Sunday is the first day of the week and is the actual day of the Resurrection, the date of the Resurrection is seldom near our celebration.  This has to do with the discrepancy between the Lunar Calendar, Solar Calendar and how the seven days of the week fit year.  Thus, it is possible to have Passover on a Monday, which if we are studying the last week of Christ's life would not fit the "days" listed by the Gospels by any shape. 

Passover is always on Nisan 15 irrespective to what "day" of the week that may be.  Each month of the Jewish calendar is very similar.  The 15th is a full moon because it is 14 days after the New Moon which is the first day of a Jewish month.  Thus every Jewish month has a full moon on the 15th and a new moon on the 1st.  The Jewish Feast Calendar is a LUNAR calendar.

Easter is determined for the SOLAR calendar by finding the FIRST full moon AFTER Vernal Equinox(Spring Solstice), March 20th.  The first Sunday AFTER the first full moon is Easter.  That is why it moves around because a solar calendar(365.25 days) is not "cleanly" divisible by the lunar calendar in which a month can be 29 or 30 days long depending upon the moon's position when Earth reaches the equinox.  This also explains why Mardi Gras does not fall upon the same date every year.  Same day, yes, but same date, nope.  Mardi Gras occurs 47 days before Easter but if you live in SW Louisiana, you know there are only 40 days for Lent. There are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  Ash Wednesday begins Lent for the Catholic Church but Sunday is a day to be celebrated, NOT fasted upon so it does not contribute to the 40 days of Lent.

Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday                                   = 46 days.
46 acutal days between Lent minus 6 Sundays during Lent =40 days.

Hope this helps a little in understand why we do what we do.

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