Talk:Easter

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Why doesn't the article explain that Easter is 100% pagan because "Easter" is derived from "Ishtar"?
A: Need summary from Ishtar not debunked here, Censorship of Pagan origins, Ishtar Easter, and articles on Alexander Hyslop and The Two Babylons.

Q: <insert question>

A: <insert answer>

What is Easter[edit]

What is Eid al-Adha? It is a Muslim feast that, to quote Wikipedia, "honors the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ishmael (Ismail)a as an act of submission to God's command, before God then intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead". That is what is essential about it and Wikipedia is right to define it as such. It is also a public holiday in some countries. A five-day holiday in the Sudan: an official explained to me that it is traditional for each married man to sacrifice a sheep or a goat for the feast; in his family, he said, "we are four married brothers and so we need five days to celebrate the feast". Non-Muslims in the Sudan celebrate the five-day holiday too, though not as a for them religious feast. They celebrate it in non-religious ways, even if they too may eat the meat of sheep or goats. That does not alter what the feast is in itself. The feast is called by various names in various languages: in the Sudan, it is called by the Turkish name of Corban Bairam. That does not alter what the feast is in itself. Customs, names, ways of celebrating, and the supposed origins of these do fit in an article on Eid al-Adha, but they should not be allowed to obscure what Eid al-Adha is.

All dictionaries agree on the definition of Easter. See Oxford English Dictionaries, Merriam-Webster. What Easter is in itself is clear. When, long after it originated, the name "Easter" was given to it, that did not alter what Easter is in itself. When it was introduced into areas where, as is claimed, a Germanic goddess was celebrated in the spring (not necessarily on exactly the same date), that did not alter what Easter is in itself. The attachment to it of various customs and usages, and its non-religious celebration, did not alter what Easter is in itself. All these matters have a place in an article on Easter, but they should not be allowed to obscure what Easter is. Esoglou (talk) 06:55, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Indeed. Very well said. Evensteven (talk) 12:43, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Agreed; I just said something similar above. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 19:18, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
When I get some time to sit down with the article again, I'll dig up some sources, and we'll talk about this some more. As the academic sources I've put forth above show, modern "Easter" is a lot more complicated than that 'it's a festival about the resurrection of Jesus'. :bloodofox: (talk) 02:53, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
A flower means many things to many people, but what it is in itself remains the same. Esoglou (talk) 11:25, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
What Easter is has not changed. Cultural celebrations have always existed, and they complicate nothing. "Modern" means contemporary, which is at most (and not very deeply) about cultural celebrations only. It does not replace the centuries-old, only adds a current flavor. Evensteven (talk) 16:12, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Easter's pagan roots[edit]

This article mentions that some consider Easter to have pagan roots, but doesn't discuss this it beyond that (or if it does, it does so without using the word pagan). Can someone expand on this in a dedicated paragraph? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 03:15, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

As above, an editor apparently had just removed those sections. Per WP:PRESERVE, hopefully they maintained those sections somewhere like origins of Easter or history of Easter—so it could be linked to from the article—rather than just deleting them. Regardless, the old format of the pages'll still be in the page's history. — LlywelynII 00:24, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Additionally, neither does the article mention the pagan connection to the origin of the word Easter. That is, having the Greek word Ostera or Eostre (Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring) as it's origin. Neither is there any reference to the Wiki page (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostara) relating to it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.28.125.12 (talk) 02:23, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

The Venerable Bede states that the name of the holiday comes from the name of the month in which the holiday usually fell. The Greek word connection is not attested to in scholarly sources, however. The scholarly consensus is that Germanic peoples such as the Germans and the Anglo-Saxons named the holiday after the name of the month they used at the time. Obviously, the Germans did not influence the Christians in Ethiopia and India. There is no scholarly backing to the claim that Easter has pagan roots. There is scholarly backing to the claim that Easter has Jewish roots. Some do consider Easter to have pagan roots. Some have the opinion that Christianity is a made up religion based on earlier pagan beliefs. Personal viewpoints are not a basis for an encyclopedia, however. 24.190.51.21 (talk) 15:20, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually ... there's a fair bit of scholarly backing, some of which is or has been in the article already. Your opinion that there isn't scholarly backing isn't sufficient to ignore the topic. Rwenonah (talk) 00:26, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Date of Easter[edit]

In the lead section, the following text with respect to the date of Easter appears:

...the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox.

Both "after" and "following" have a common implication that disallows coincidence. Using that implication, consider the case of the ecclesiastical equinox falling on 21 March. The earliest date for the Paschal Full Moon that follows that would be 22 March, and the earliest date for the first Sunday after that, i.e., the earliest date for Easter, would be 23 March -- which is incorrect, as Easter can fall on 22 March.

Clearly, either the term "after" or the term "following" should be changed to "on or after."

The Wikipedia articles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_controversy#Second_phase[1] and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#Separation_of_Easter_computation_from_Jewish_calendar[2] state that Easter should come after the equinox.

Note that the Wikipedia article on the Paschal Full Moon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_Full_Moon[3]) states the following, which is not inconsistent with the previously cited articles:

The date of Easter is determined as the first Sunday after the first paschal full moon falling on or after the Spring Equinox (March 21).

Note the key clause "on or after," which differs from the other articles but properly allows for Easter to occur on 22 March.

If correct, the term "following" should be changed to "on or after", and this same edit should be made in other Wikipedia articles that have comparable statements about the date of Easter.

ChuckEdN (talk) 15:24, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing out the error. Esoglou (talk) 19:18, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

In the year 2019 vernal equinox will occur at Mar 20, 21:58 UTC and first full moon after it, at Mar 21, 01:43 UTC. Georges Theodosiou — Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.4.224.210 (talk) 11:20, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

The date of Easter is not determined by the date of the astronomical equinox (the date of which can be different in Greenwich (UTC) and in Jerusalem or Japan, because of the difference in clock times). 21 March, not the astronomical date, is the starting point for calculating. And indeed it isn't the astronomical full moon (the date of which can also vary according to the geographical position of the observer) that is determinant. That is particularly evident in the Julian calculations of the date of Easter, used by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Gregorian calculations are very much closer to the astronomical data. Esoglou (talk) 12:51, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Fairs fair. When the Julian Easter table started out the fourteenth day of the lunar month (which rules, not the full moon) was astronomically correct, more so than with the Gregorian calendar with its awkward mix of 400 and 2500 year cycles. It's not been updated because, as Kepler said, "Easter is a feast, not a planet". — Preceding unsigned comment added by 156.61.250.250 (talk) 13:34, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, it's not been updated for many reasons Kepler probably had little insight into. But he was right in that astronomy has never been more than a tool for its calculation, and once the rules for calculation were set (6th century), the astronomy became peripheral to religious issues. Evensteven (talk) 06:50, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
By logic of "ecclesiastical equinox or ecclesiastical full moon" you can call beef "ecclesiastical fish" and eat it in fasting days. Georges Theodosiou, The Straw Man, chretienorthodox@hotmail.fr 86.194.230.230 (talk) 10:07, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
It's not a result of logic, in the sense that it was a choice made when there were other reasonable alternatives. The ecclesiastical full moon is the result of a need that could not be met, a compromise over something that nothing could be done about (at the time). See the section below on "Early calculations". And there is more at stake than merely the calculation itself, even today. Evensteven (talk) 19:44, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Early calculations[edit]

There was an objection to my link to the Attic calendar. At first, the Roman church was still using tables based on an 8-year cycle. There are other wiki pages linking that cycle (the octaeteris) with the Attic calendar, but fair enough: the Romans got their astronomy from the Greeks but I don't have a source with an explicit link and it's a simple-enough pattern that it could have been independently invented.

At the same time, Esoglou, with thanks for watching over the page, do not get so trigger-happy that you simply revert unquestionable improvements—links to octaeteris and Augustalis—along with one or two contentious aspects. — LlywelynII 00:42, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

If there are WP:UNDUE concerns, we still WP:PRESERVE the information, but it may be time to shunt a good chunk of text to a new page on the History of Easter. It certainly needs clearing up: Nicaea's treatment of Easter was part of the reaction against those following Jewish dating, not something separate from it. — LlywelynII 00:53, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Nicaea's decision about Easter dating reflected their stance of its high importance to the Christian faith. The principal problem was that while astronomical observation was widely understood and dependable in ancient times, astronomical prediction was not possible at the time because no one had the mathematics (which needs calculus) to do it. One element of Nicaea's decision was that the entire church everywhere ought to celebrate Pascha on the same day. But that required a calculation methodology that could be replicated throughout the church, because ancient communication of a central decision would take months or more to complete, and observation alone could not possibly possibly determine the equinox far enough in advance that the Church could begin Lent on schedule, even in any one place.
The council's rejection of Jewish dating was partly because the Jewish calendar was interpretive, adjusting its intercalary months to observations that kept the lunar and solar cycles synchronized. Final determination of the date of Passover could be left until it was close at hand (and observable) because everything took place in Jerusalem. But by the 3rd century, the Jews had long been dispersed from there, and were confronted with their own difficulties (not calendrical alone), and needed to make adjustments for reasons independent of Christianity. The council decided therefore that it was unseemly for those outside the Christian faith to be determinate in setting the date of Pascha, and that the Church would need see to its setting for reasons that were consonant with the faith. Therefore they declared that independent calculation, such as that done in the west in Rome and Alexandria, would be solution, as opposed to the more eastern practice that required asking the Jews when Passover was to be (which could not be performed on schedule anyway).
The problem remained to create a single computus, for Alexandria used its calendar and Rome used the Julian. (These were closely matched, due to Julius Caesar's method of consulting Alexandria about reform of the old Roman calendar, but they were not identical.) I do not know enough of the details of the Alexandrian calendar to speak authoritatively as to an eight-year cycle (84 years would seem more likely), but church history gives every indication that that is where the Alexandrian calculation must have got its cycle from, rather than the Attic calendar. It is difficult to conceive that the Attic calendar could have had enough influence in Alexandria, long an origin of learning as well as a center, to make it predominant in the Pascha computus.
The Church did indeed work to reconcile the calendars and create a single computus, but the work proved difficult to accomplish, especially at far geographical removes, especially after the fall of Rome. Dionysius Exiguus was thorough and instrumental in summing up and resolving two centuries of effort in the Church, and in so doing became largely assured as to the correctness of Alexandrian techniques. Only then was the Church truly able to follow fully the direction of the Nicaean council, and of course the adoption proved long and difficult in an unsafe world.
It is perhaps an overstatement in the article that the Alexandrian rules were ultimately adopted by Rome in their entirety. That should be questioned, and sourced. The work was always collaborative between Rome and Alexandria. But Rome made most of the adjustments. The Alexandrians, after all, had the better technology.
Hope this helps understanding a bit. Evensteven (talk) 08:52, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
@Evensteven: Nice historical discussion, except for the first paragraph where you say "astronomical prediction was not possible at the time because no one had the mathematics (which needs calculus) to do it." If you look at the history of astronomy, you will find that it was possible to compute the time of a new or full moon with accuracies of better than an hour using either Babylonian arithmetical schemes or Greek geometrical models (e.g., Ptolemy's). Since Easter computus only needs to know the date of the new moon, even simpler calculating techniques were more than adequate for computistical purposes. (As a historical aside, the Gregorian calendar reform predates the discovery of calculus and post-Newtonian dynamical models). --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 15:31, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
I am sorry for giving Llewellyn the impression that it was a "so trigger-happy" "wholesale revert" to remove a reference to the Attic calendar supposedly used for determining the date of Easter and supposedly based on an 8-year cycle, and to a replacement of that calendar by an 84-year one supposedly of the time of Augustalis, whose floruit is disputed (3rd/5th century), and to add a "citation needed" tag to Llewelyn's statement that the Alexandrian system was adopted in Rome "following the tables of Dionysius Exiguus in 525 which introduced the Christian Era calendar". I gather from the Wikipedia article on Augustalis, which I presume Llewelyn will now correct, that there is a scholarly view that the table of Augustalis was never used in Rome. I also gather from the article on the Attic calendar that there were several Attic calendars and that none of them strictly followed an 8-year cycle. However, Llewelyn assures me that "there are other wiki pages linking that cycle (the octaeteris) with the Attic calendar, but fair enough: the Romans got their astronomy from the Greeks but I don't have a source with an explicit link and it's a simple-enough pattern that it could have been independently invented". I would have thought that WP:OR and WP:SYNTH demanded something more. The Llewelyn text does not specify that Rome was the place where an 8-year cycle was used to determine the date of Easter, but the statement here that the Romans got their astronomy from the Greeks suggests it. The Greek astronomer Cleostratus, to whom the 8-year cycle is attributed, was not from Attica. The Greek astronomer Meton was from Attica, but he is associated with a 19-year, not an 8-year cycle. No doubt Llewelyn will clarify all this, and it is best that I stay out of it.
As you doubtless know, the canons of the 325 Council of Nicaea do not in fact say anything about the date of Easter, and even Constantine's subsequent letter specifies no particular system or authority for determining the date, but only asks for uniformity and declares that following the Jewish reckoning would be inaccurate and would lead to two Easters or none in some years (reckoned perhaps from the March equinox). Esoglou (talk) 15:51, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
@SteveMcCluskey: Your historical approximation is closer than mine, I agree; I was abbreviating somewhat - it's a complex set I was trying to communicate. By "astronomical prediction", I meant prediction to relatively high degrees of exactitude, to which the ancients did not have access. One hour from the new moon was in fact not close enough, because the timing also depends on the equinox, and the new moon in question must follow the equinox. That was built into the tables with the presumption that the calendar would indicate when the equinox was, but of course we recognize that the calendar was inaccurate to a degree, and drifted over the centuries. But in some years, the two celestial events occurred close together in time, and calculation beforehand was not enough to tell. Thus, the reliance on the calendar was the only practical solution to establishing a computus that could be done independently. In addition, it was the ancient practice to time the event of the new moon at the point where the first sliver of crescent appears to the naked eye, rather than to the modern point, which could often make the day of its occurrence vary by a day from the modern definition. In addition, it made the moment that much more dependent upon observation, but that was something the ancients were quite used to. I don't at all disparage what they were able to do - they did fabulous things with the tools and information they had at hand. But it still takes calculus and modern measurement to predict all dependencies with assuredness. In the closest circumstances, the ancients advised the Pope and then let him make a decision.
Of course you're right that calculus was invented in the 18th century, much after the Gregorian calendar. But the Gregorian calendar was not designed in order to make a better computus, but to correct for the drift that had been in the Julian. I think even the ancients knew the year was not exactly 365.25 days, but that was much closer than most calendars came to it in their day, and they may have thought it was the closest practical approximation. By Gregory's time, the rather simple leap-day-rule change was known to be a closer practical approximation. With the calendar change, the computus then needed tweaking to fit the new pattern of leap days. But the computus was still dependent upon the calendar for determining the time of the equinox. It is still only since calculus and reasonably modern astronomical precision that a truly predictive astronomical computus has become possible. So far, I have yet to hear anyone suggest using one. But for the first time, it could now be done, and entirely within what we received from the Nicaean council. For Esolgou is entirely correct about the canons and Constantine's descriptive letter: uniformity of date, and no prescription of system or authority for determining the date except that it be done by Christians, which it was (at the time) in Rome and Alexandria. Evensteven (talk) 22:16, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

Christianity and Sexuality arbitration[edit]

It's a real bind that "Easter" is semi - protected. References 46 and 81 need work. I asked an administrator to unprotect and my request was archived. Maybe IP editors are not taken notice of? Could someone with knowledge of the above case ask one of the administrators there (e.g. Lankiveil) to do it? This is supposed to be the encyclopaedia anyone can edit and four years is a long time. 156.61.250.250 (talk) 19:00, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Are the two references OK now? Some other aspects of what you have written here I do not understand. Why don't you take a log-in name? Esoglou (talk) 20:15, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
"Ephrem" is his first name (his monastic name) and his last name is "Moraitis", so I'm changing it in the references you edited. Vincent J. Lipsio (talk) 22:17, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
The references look fine. If there are no objections I'll ask an administrator to unprotect tomorrow. 156.61.250.250 (talk) 09:49, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 21 March 2015[edit]

Please delete 2014 as its useless 92.161.223.95 (talk) 09:06, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: That's not a good reason Cannolis (talk) 09:14, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
The standard for this seems to be that the 2014 date info will be kept until Easter 2015 passes by, then 2015 info will be kept until 2016, for backdated reference. Perhaps not entirely necessary, but it can be useful information. Crumpled Fire (talk) 11:04, 21 March 2015 (UTC)