IT MAY BE EASTER . . .
. . . but it is not Resurrection Sunday in 2008. The date for Easter was determined by the first Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. The purpose was to standardize the celebration of Easter and to separate this day from the Jewish celebration of Passover. It was decided that Easter would be the first Sunday following the first Full Moon on or after the Vernal Equinox, which was set at March 21st. In 2008 the Full Moon will occur on March 21st and the first Sunday following is March 23rd.
However, Resurrection Sunday, by definition, is tied to Passover. Jesus was crucified the day before Passover. The Jews were insistent that the three men being executed be dead and down from the crosses before sundown, the beginning of the next day, Passover1. The Day of Passover is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, also called Abib2.
Nisan is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Hebrew months begin with the New Moon. The beginning of Nisan is determined if the barley is ripe at the time of the New Moon. This past week a group of observant Jews searched the Land of Israel from the Negev Desert in the south to the border of Lebanon3 in the north. They found no ripe barley. Therefore this year, according to the New Moon and the Hebrew calendar, Nisan 1 will fall on April 6th on our Gregorian calendar, causing both Passover and Resurrection Sunday to be April 20th.
The term “easter” may work for the pagan celebration honoring Astarte or Ishtar, the goddess of fertility and the basis for the name Easter, but it does not work for honoring and remembering the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Easter was and is celebrated by pagans with fertility symbols; rabbits, chicks and colored eggs. The pagans actually laugh at Christians for using their symbols and naively perpetuating the remembrance of their pagan goddess.
Regardless of the date used, Christians celebrate the holiest day of the year, Resurrection Sunday. We celebrate it and honor Jesus because this is the day He rose from the dead, the firstfruits of the grave4, so that we may have the same wonderful hope5. May there be no Ishtar eggs in the House of the Lord.
1 - John 19:31
2 - Leviticus 23:5
3 - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/karaite_korner_news/message/346
4 - First Corinthians 15:20
5 - First Corinthians 15:23