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Author Topic: Pascha Date, 2010  (Read 2443 times) Average Rating: 0
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Basil 320
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« on: March 29, 2010, 12:45:26 PM »

I have have read that the calendars (including whatever calendar the Jewish faith uses) have changed over the centuries. Still this year's date of Pascha has me quite confused.  Passover starts tonight, yet we haven't experienced the full moon yet.  Passover won't conclude until a day after we have celebrated Pascha, so we'll be celebrating Christ's Resurrection "with the Jews," which is condemned by writings of some of the Fathers.  Perhaps another issue related to my confusion is that Orthodox will celebrate Pascha on the same date as the Gregorian Calendar's Easter date, two year's in a row, a situation I can't recall experiencing in my life time.

The formula of the 1st Ecumenical Synod, is essentially that Pascha is to be celebrated on "the first Sunday, following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21st today)," after the Jewish Passover has concluded, (Zonaras' rule, based on writings of the some of the Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Synod, written outside of the Synod). We've had years when Pascha was celebrated a week after the Gregorian Easter date, when Passover had started after the Gregorian Easter date, but Passover hadn't concluded.

Last year, 2009, our Paschal celebration was completely consistent with the 1st Ecumenical Synod's formula.  I recall noting it on our forum, the night of the relevant full moon last year.

So, we're celebrating Pascha this year before Passover has concluded; why?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 12:48:03 PM by Basil 320 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2010, 12:53:07 PM »

Don't you have some Holy Week services to attend?
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2010, 12:59:18 PM »

The whole point of not "celebrating with the Jews" was to make the Christian observance of Pascha independent of the Jewish calendar.  Pascha this year will be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.  Also, the actual day of Passover will have already occurred.  It matters not if the Jews are still celebrating the feast; the day of Passover has come and gone. 
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2010, 01:01:03 PM »

It's all about the math:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_date
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2010, 01:04:30 PM »

The full moon is tomorrow night.  In my lifetime...I'm 58, I remember quite a few times celebrating Pascha at the same time as the West.  There's enough services for a person to attend this week...tonight and tomorrow night we have the Bridegroom Matins (which I love) and on Wednesday night our parish has the Holy Unction service.  Thursday, we have 2 services, the Vesperal Divine Liturgy in the morning and the Matins service of Great Friday (12 Passion Gospels).  On Friday, our parish only has Great Vespers of Great Friday.  Saturday is the Vesperal Divine Liturgy with the 15 OT readings.  Finally the truly wonderful services of Nocturns and Paschal Matins and Divine Liturgy.  Even with the services our parish doesn't do, there's still enough to keep me out of trouble and still find time to do my baking...lol  I always look forward to the midnight service, as children to to Christmas morning.
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2010, 01:10:27 PM »

I always look forward to the midnight service, as children to to Christmas morning.
So do I. My parents, who are not Orthodox, asked me the year I was converting why we celebrated Easter at midnight. My simple answer was, "We just can't wait any longer."
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2010, 02:01:37 PM »

The whole point of not "celebrating with the Jews" was to make the Christian observance of Pascha independent of the Jewish calendar.
AISI, we are essentially to not give any consideration whatsoever for when the Jews celebrate Passover.  That's their feast.  Why should we care when they have it?  (Just paraphrasing in my own words the statement I quoted... Wink)
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2010, 04:56:44 PM »

Part of the problem when the canon was written was that the Jews weren't even following their own historical method for calculating Passover, so that in many cases it was falling before the equinox (huge no-no #1 for authentic Judaism).  IMO, the canons telling us not to celebrate with them were written with this understanding: if we take the lazy way out and just say Pascha is the 1st Sunday after the Jews celebrate Passover, then there will be occasions when we're celebrating incorrectly; instead, we have already incorporated the Passover formula into our Paschal calculation - thus rendering useless the consideration of Jewish Passover.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2010, 12:44:30 PM »

So, we're celebrating Pascha this year before Passover has concluded; why?

Short answer: Because we follow a Paschalion based on the Julian Calendar, not on actual astronomical events observable today.

Long answer: Our Paschalion is not tied to the Jewish Passover. That's actually one of the two main points of the relevant canon passed at the First Ecumenical Council, which were:

(1) We don't follow the Jews. Not only is that something that a couple of heretical groups did, but, as Fr. George said, the Jews after the destruction of the Temple had lost their ability to properly calculate the Passover. In fact, it was so bad that they had to have their own council to address the issue a couple of generations after Nicaea. By the time of Zonaras and Balsamon, the major 12th century canonists you mentioned, the Jews had corrected things, so it appeared to those canonists that the calculations coincided, and thus they incorrectly claimed we depend on the Jewish Passover. Such was just coincidence.

(2) The Patriarch of Alexandria (having at his disposal the best scientists and astronomers) should send a letter to all the churches each year, informing them of the date of Pascha. He should use those scientists to determine the actual date of Pascha, which has two characteristics: (1) It's on a Sunday, (2) following the full moon of the spring equinox.

So, the Patriarch of Alexandria went home, went to the best scientists of the day, and they (rightly) determined that the spring equinox was occurring on March 21 at that time. They therefore drew up a Paschal calendar (Paschalion) which stated that the earliest possible day for the celebration of Pascha is March 22, if the full moon occurs on March 21, and the latest is April 25, if the full moon occurs on April 18.

The only problem? The Patriarch of Alexandria didn't continue to calculate an up-to-date Paschalion, based on when the spring equinox actually happens. Instead, we more or less follow the original calculation, pretending that the equinox is occurring on March 21, as calculated on the Julian calendar. As the Julian calendar has gotten less and less accurate, so too has our calculation of the full moon following the spring equinox.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 12:45:32 PM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2010, 01:06:45 PM »

Very enlightening, Reply Nos. 8 & 7.  Thank you.  Cali Anastasi.
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2010, 01:18:24 PM »

Very enlightening, Reply Nos. 8 & 7.  Thank you.  Cali Anastasi.

Sure. If I remember correctly, St. Cyril of Alexandria was the last Alexandrian Patriarch to issue a truly updated calculation, which set the dates of Pascha for the next 95 years (our Paschal tables are still based on 95-year cycles).

Most places outside of the East had been ignoring Nicaea, especially on the calculation of Easter, but Rome adopted Cyril's table about 100 years later and such was the law of the Church for quite some time. In the 14th century -- well before Rome's Gregorian corrections to the calendar --  at least three different Byzantine figures (an astronomer, a canonist, and an astronomer-monk) tried to get the Emperor to update the Paschalion based on real-word lunar and solar calculations, but he always said no because he was afraid of a popular revolt. Some things never change!  Wink
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2010, 03:30:40 PM »

The truly important point is that we all celibate on the same Sunday, and only once a year.
(once a year being once between spring equinox of each year on the old calendar)

See:

Concerning the Date of Pascha and the First Ecumenical Council  by Bishop Peter

 http://churchmotherofgod.org/articles/articles-about-the-orthodox-church/1987-concerning-the-date-of-pascha-and-the-first-ecumenical-council.html
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2010, 04:55:35 PM »

The truly important point is that we all celibate on the same Sunday, and only once a year.
(once a year being once between spring equinox of each year on the old calendar)

See:

Concerning the Date of Pascha and the First Ecumenical Council  by Bishop Peter

 http://churchmotherofgod.org/articles/articles-about-the-orthodox-church/1987-concerning-the-date-of-pascha-and-the-first-ecumenical-council.html

You must have a read a different article than the one you pointed to. Bishop Peter said nothing about "(once a year being once between spring equinox of each year on the old calendar)." He said instead " We can, therefore, reconstruct the elements of the decision of the first ecumenical council on Pascha in the following way: (1) This feast must be celebrated on the same Sunday by all the churches. (2) It must take into account the full moon that follows the vernal equinox. (3) Consequently, the eastern churches who followed the Jews in calculating the date must abandon this usage. However, the council did not enter into details of the method of calculation and, therefore, did not impose the use of the nineteen-year cycle. As Professor D.M. Ogitsky correctly notes,

    'a detailed and exhaustive ordering of all the technical aspects of the computation of Pascha (including the problems raised by the inexactness of the Julian calendar was not in the competence of the council.' "

It appears, if you read Bishop Peter's article further, that some of the Medieval fathers erroneously introduced the idea that the Julian Calendar had to be followed.
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2013, 01:05:29 AM »

IMO, the canons telling us not to celebrate with them were written with this understanding: if we ... just say Pascha is the 1st Sunday after the Jews celebrate Passover, then there will be occasions when we're celebrating incorrectly; instead, we have already incorporated the Passover formula into our Paschal calculation - thus rendering useless the consideration of Jewish Passover.
As noted in another post, beginning in the 4th century the Jewish sages began the transition from an empirical to a computed calendar.  The tale of a Jewish "council" which instituted the present-day Rabbinic calendar all in one piece circa A.D. 360 is a myth.  The first steps (and only those) in the centuries-long development of the Rabbinic calendar are recorded in the Talmuds; but the present-day Rabbinic calendar was not fully developed and widely accepted until around the 9th-10th century.  Once it was developed, the situation presupposed by Antioch canon 1 and Apostolic canon 7 no longer existed, as Fr. George has noted. 

Note that the day that our modern almanacs and pocket-calendars call "Passover" is 15 Nisan in the Rabbinic calendar, not 14 Nisan as it always is in the context of the Christian paschalion.
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2013, 08:17:26 AM »

Arise, dead thread!
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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2013, 11:53:10 AM »

Sure. If I remember correctly, St. Cyril of Alexandria was the last Alexandrian Patriarch to issue a truly updated calculation, which set the dates of Pascha for the next 95 years (our Paschal tables are still based on 95-year cycles).
The lunar cycles, East and West, are 19 years.  A ninety-five year period is made from five cycles of 19, and therefore a convenient number for an Easter table, but the Julian lunar calendar's corresponding dates in the Julian solar calendar are not truly cyclic in both date and feria except at intervals of 532 Julian years, since 19x28=532.

Most places outside of the East had been ignoring Nicaea, especially on the calculation of Easter, but Rome adopted Cyril's table about 100 years later and such was the law of the Church for quite some time.
The 84-year cycle that Rome used at the time of Nicea did not "ignore" Nicea:  it was fully compliant with Nicea.  The tables were discrepant from those of Alexandria, but it was not until much later that the Nicene decision was (erroneously) understood to require the Alexandrine tables and no other.  At the time of Nicea the idea seems to have been that the bishops would use their tables as tools, resolving any discrepancies by negotiation.  In any case, this is what happened in practice.

In the 14th century -- well before Rome's Gregorian corrections to the calendar --  at least three different Byzantine figures (an astronomer, a canonist, and an astronomer-monk) tried to get the Emperor to update the Paschalion based on real-word lunar and solar calculations, but he always said no because he was afraid of a popular revolt. Some things never change!  Wink
Nicephoros Gregoras proposed a correction to the Easter tables, as indeed, in England, Roger Bacon had in an earlier generation.  As you say, there may have been others.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 11:54:26 AM by Mockingbird » Logged

Forþon we sealon efestan þas Easterlican þing to asmeagenne and to gehealdanne, þaet we magon cuman to þam Easterlican daege, þe aa byð, mid fullum glaedscipe and wynsumnysse and ecere blisse.--Byrhtferth of Ramsey
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« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2013, 12:29:26 PM »

    This is actually my biggest sticking point with Orthodox praxis - Pascha will actually drift into summer in time, then winter. 

  Easter or Pascha should be calculated based on the astronomical vernal equinox, not a flawed calendar.
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2013, 12:33:58 PM »

    This is actually my biggest sticking point with Orthodoxy- Pascha will actually drift into summer in time, then winter.

  Easter or Pascha should be calculated based on the astronomical vernal equinox, not a flawed calendar.

As a non-Orthodox Christian you are not allowed to criticize the Orthodox Church in this section (among others).
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« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2013, 02:09:43 PM »

IMO, the canons telling us not to celebrate with them were written with this understanding: if we ... just say Pascha is the 1st Sunday after the Jews celebrate Passover, then there will be occasions when we're celebrating incorrectly; instead, we have already incorporated the Passover formula into our Paschal calculation - thus rendering useless the consideration of Jewish Passover.
As noted in another post, beginning in the 4th century the Jewish sages began the transition from an empirical to a computed calendar.  The tale of a Jewish "council" which instituted the present-day Rabbinic calendar all in one piece circa A.D. 360 is a myth.  The first steps (and only those) in the centuries-long development of the Rabbinic calendar are recorded in the Talmuds; but the present-day Rabbinic calendar was not fully developed and widely accepted until around the 9th-10th century.  Once it was developed, the situation presupposed by Antioch canon 1 and Apostolic canon 7 no longer existed, as Fr. George has noted. 

Note that the day that our modern almanacs and pocket-calendars call "Passover" is 15 Nisan in the Rabbinic calendar, not 14 Nisan as it always is in the context of the Christian paschalion.

That's because they start the day at midnight, not sunset.
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« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2013, 08:36:31 PM »

Under Rabbinic law, the day starts at sunset, or shortly afterward in the following twilight.  No exceptions except at very high latitudes when there are midnight-sun or midday-dark effects.
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Forþon we sealon efestan þas Easterlican þing to asmeagenne and to gehealdanne, þaet we magon cuman to þam Easterlican daege, þe aa byð, mid fullum glaedscipe and wynsumnysse and ecere blisse.--Byrhtferth of Ramsey
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« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2013, 02:47:23 PM »

That the civil day begins at midnight is certainly true, but has nothing to do with the point that I was making, which is that in workaday modern terminology, as employed by our calendars and almanacs, "Passover" refers to the 15th day Nisan on the Rabbinic calendar.  When our Jewish neighbors sit down to their first Seder, it is no longer the 14th of Nisan on their calendar, it is the beginning of the 15th of Nisan.

In some of the scriptures, however, and in other ancient writers when they are writing carefully, "Passover" refers to the previous day, the 14th of Nisan when the Passover lamb is slain, not the 15th of Nisan on which it is eaten.  Numbers 28.16-17: 

Quote
On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Lord's passover.  And on the fifteenth day of this month is a feast; seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.
 
It is this more precise meaning of "Passover" that is presupposed in the early discussions of the Easter computation. In the writings of these 3rd-5th century Christian writers, the word "Passover", when it refers to a date on a lunar calendar, means the 14th day of a lunar month, Jewish or Christian, never the 15th.
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Forþon we sealon efestan þas Easterlican þing to asmeagenne and to gehealdanne, þaet we magon cuman to þam Easterlican daege, þe aa byð, mid fullum glaedscipe and wynsumnysse and ecere blisse.--Byrhtferth of Ramsey
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