Do you ever wonder why Passover and Easter sometimes overlap and other times don’t?
In some years, the two holidays overlap and in other years they are a month apart.
This year, in 2022, Passover begins on Friday, April 15 and Easter falls on Sunday, April 17th.
The big reason for the difference is found in the calendar. Jewish holidays are set according to a lunar calendar whereas today Easter is set according to a solar calendar. Passover falls on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. Today Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the vernal equinox and can occur anywhere from March 22 to April 25.
The date of Easter wasn’t always set that way, however.
In early Church history, particularly the first two centuries, followers of Jesus commemorated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the same day as Passover. Back then, Easter was known as pascha (Greek for Passover).
During the second century, some Christians began celebrating it on the Sunday following Passover. This caused a rift between Christians who wished to commemorate Passover and pascha together and those who wished to distinguish the two holidays. Victor, Bishop of Rome, even went so far as to excommunicate anyone who observed pascha on Passover. When Emperor Constantine stopped the persecution of Christians in the fourth century, he declared that pascha would be officially celebrated on the Sunday after Passover.
Several centuries later, the holiday was no longer called pascha but Easter and the date was modified to align with the solar calendar.