Easter 2018: When Is It and Why Does Its Date Change Every Year?

Reuter/Your View/Hubert CiniPaola parish priest blesses the children with their Easter eggs and figolli, a traditional Easter pastry, in Malta during the Easter Sunday procession April 12, 2009.

While Christmas is always celebrated every December 25, the date of Easter changes every year.

To Christians around the world, Christmas and Easter are two of the most important holidays. Unlike Christmas, though, which is celebrated in remembrance of the birth of Jesus, the date of Easter changes every year, falling on April 1 this year. 

Easter is celebrated to remember the day Jesus resurrected after His crucifixion and death on the cross on Good Friday. Biblical records show that Jesus was crucified and died around the Passover and resurrected three days after which. Since the Passover is observed around the time after the first full moon of the vernal equinox, the first day of Spring, Easter is celebrated around the same time as well.

Easter is the culmination of the Christian holy season of Lent, otherwise known as Lenten Season or simply Lent. Without counting the Sundays included within the period, Lent lasts for 40 days, reflecting the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness after He was baptized. During this season, Christians go on reflection and penance to improve their faith and to honour the sacrifices and death of Jesus for the sins of humankind.

As the Lenten Season is based on the day of the Easter, it goes without saying that all the important days included in the season, including Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, also have to change dates every year.

The Lenten Season always officially begins with the Ash Wednesday, which happens to fall on Valentine's Day this year, February 14. During this day, Catholic Christians attend a mass and have their foreheads marked with a cross made of ash mixed with Holy Water or olive oil.

On March 25, Christians will be observing Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus' entry to Jerusalem, wherein the people covered the path with palm leaves for the donkey Jesus was riding to walk on. On this day, Catholics hold a procession as they hold branches of palms that are later blessed with Holy Water.

Maundy Thursday, on the other hand, commemorates the last supper Jesus had with his disciples before he was arrested. This year, the day falls on March 29.

The day after Maundy Thursday, Christians observe Good Friday, which remembers the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross. On this day, Catholics hold a procession of statues of Jesus representing the various stages that lead to His death.