Easter often feels like the official start of spring, even though it technically begins on March 20 this year. Between the pastel-hued Easter baskets, cheery crafts, egg hunts and fresh spring feasts, Easter makes winter a distant memory.
But it takes a lot of planning to pull off the perfect Easter celebration. Between scheduling brunch with your entire family, visiting the Easter Bunny with your little bunnies and allotting time for religious services (if you observe), Easter may be just as busy as Christmas. Not to mention, there are all those eggs to decorate and hide leading up to the Easter Bunny's arrival.
To help you put your best foot forward, you'll need to know the date well in advance. So, when exactly does Easter land this year? And why does it hop all over the calendar, springing up on various Sundays in March and April?
Ahead, we’ll clue you in on why the Easter date changes every year and share some festive facts you can tell everyone on the day.
When is Easter in 2023?
This year, Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 9, 2023. Want to take a peek at upcoming Easters as well? Those will land on Sunday, March 31, 2024, and Sunday, April 20, 2025.
How is the Easter date determined? And why does it change every year?
The Easter date is actually tied to the moon. Specifically, the Paschal Full Moon, otherwise known as the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the spring equinox. “Paschal” is Greek for “Passover,” and the timing was established in the year 325 by the Council of Nicaea.
Interestingly enough, Easter follows the lunar cycles of the Jewish calendar rather than Christmas, which is fixed to the solar calendar (hence why it lands closer to the winter solstice).
It should be mentioned that the Christian church always observes March 21 as the first day of spring, even though the astronomical date can vary. Keeping the spring equinox on March 21 simplifies things when it comes to determining the date for Easter.
Other important dates tied to Easter
Given that Easter is the Christian church's most important feast, there are a lot of holidays leading up to this special Sunday.
As a refresher, Easter observes the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which took place three days after the crucifixion. Holy Week, which is the dedicated to the last week of Jesus' life, is celebrated during the week that leads up to Easter and includes:
- Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week and when Jesus entered Jerusalem)
- Maundy Thursday, when Jesus celebrated his last Passover with his disciples
- Good Friday, when the crucifixion took place
- Holy Saturday, the final day of Christ's death
Passover and Easter often fall close together or overlap, and for good reason: It's said that Jesus celebrated Passover the night before the crucifixion. Today, Passover is an important Jewish holiday that commemorates the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt with a special meal (aka Seder) on the first night. Throughout the seven or eight days, symbolic foods are eaten and sacred prayers are said.
This year, Passover will start on the evening of Wednesday, April 5, 2023, and will last until the evening of Thursday, April 3, 2023.