Religion is a strange conversation especially when an Atheist, a Sikh, a Christian and a Catholic discuss it. I am the Catholic.
The Atheist asked me a question how do we determine Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. How many days are there?
Well, the Sikh is a mathematician and from the top of his head he came up with the number 45 days. The Christian joined in, pulled out a calendar, started counting the number of days and confirmed its 45 days.
And I said: “You guys got it all wrong. Its 40 days excluding Sunday.”
A recount ensued to prove that it’s correct. Of course, I am correct since I learnt from my error last year. I sacrificed myself for more than 40 days and I didn’t turn “holy”.
The Atheist is still not satisfied. Being an Atheist, she questions everything. Fair enough since I question everything myself, too. The next question was that these days keep on changing every year. Sometimes Ash Wednesday is early then Easter is early, as well.
This time I’m stumped for I do not know the answer. Being a Catholic when it comes to calendar of events, I just follow the schedule. It’s a worthy question and this is something I really don’t have the answer. Just like a good Catholic the answer can be found through Google.
Based on my research it all depends on:
- Spring Equinox
- Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the following month
- Ash Wednesday is counting 40 days backwards excluding Sundays
Spring was on March 21. The first full moon the following month is on April 15. The first Sunday after the full moon is April 20 and this what we call Easter Sunday. Back to the calendar, we all started counting backwards, excluding the Sundays and it worked. We were all filled with glee in learning new things.
The Atheist proclaimed: “Allah is good!” And I responded: “Thanks be to Google.”
This is the simplest way I can explain it to a cross cultural conversation without having to tell them about Paschal moon, Gregorian Calendar and a conflict in the beginning between the Jewish and Christian calendar.