Sabbatum Sanctum

The title in Latin hopes to ease the reader into yet another detour I take, this time to talk about Easter weekend, hitting once again the pause button in our chronological retelling of the events that led to our modern calendar. We were deep into Caesar and the oman culture, so I hope the Latin title is welcome…

The literal translation is “Holy Saturday”, but in English it is better known as Easter Eve, which fits well with the historical facts

Easter is the great Christian celebration. If Christmas represents the birth of Jesus Christ, Easter symbolizes His resurrection. And, honestly, which should be bigger? (or, putting it bluntly, anybody can be born, but how many people can resurrect?) And, not by chance, the Easter celebration is much more in sync with the history of the calendar.

Jesus was born, lived and died where today is Israel, a region that, during that period of time, was occupied by Rome. The Julian Calendar was not 50 years old when Jesus was born, and it was only natural that the Jewish people did not observe it, having their own calendar (which still exists today).

The Jewish calendar is a basic lunissolar calendar, with 12 lunar months forming a 354-day long year. Every once in a while, following an intricate rule, a 13th month is added to the year, trying to put it back on track with the solar year. Hence the name: lunissolar.

The Passion of the Christ happened on a certain date of the Jewish calendar of that time. When we convert this date to our modern calendar, whic derives from the Julian calendar and is basically solar, we get a different date for every year we do the calculation.

To calculate when Easter Sunday happens in our calendar, one must know astronomy! Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the March Equinox. It is that easy. Happy Easter to all! ■