Anglican leaders meeting in Canterbury this week have agreed for the first time to work with Orthodox Christian leaders to move towards a fixed date for Easter.
Helping negotiate an agreement between Christian churches to fix Easter to a set Sunday in April would end centuries of disruption around the date and endear the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to schools, businesses, holiday companies and millions more individuals in the UK and abroad, throughout the world.
Although there have been unsuccessful attempts to do this before, the latest initiative is the brainchild of Patriarch Tawadros II, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Archbishop Welby said in Canterbury today: “Pope Tawadros has suggested that Easter is fixed around the second or third Sunday in April and the Primates agreed that they support that.” He added: “I would love see it before I retire. The first attempt to do this was in the tenth century so it may take some time.”
He predicted it could be done in five to ten years, because all sorts of things such as school holiday dates for some years ahead had already been settled.
Few people grasp the maths behind Easter, although this writer explains that it is calculated using both the Sun and Moon and is on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. It changes each year according to the Julian calendar used by Eastern churches and the Gregorian calendar used in the West, and only occasionally falls on the same date for both East and West.