Leap Of Faith: Daily Lessons About Jesus Christ
Chapter: Easter, Passover, and Equinox (Pages 259-260)
Easter (Gr. pascha, Passover), rendered Easter in Acts 12:4 in the New American Standard Bible, but correctly translated Passover in the American Standard Version—the day on which the church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no celebration of the resurrection in the New Testament. The Jewish Christians linked it with the Passover and so observed it on the fourteenth day of Nisan regardless of the day of the week. But the Gentile believers celebrated the resurrection on the Lord’s Day, Sunday. This difference was settled by the Council of Nicca in 325 A.D., which ruled that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. This is the system followed today, the date of Easter varying between March 22 and April 25.
Acts 12:4 (nasb) says, “And when he had seized him, he put him in prison delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people.”
The term equinox occurs twice a year when the tilt of the earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun, the center of the sun being in the same plane as the earth’s equator. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day have approximately equal length.
At an equinox, the sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point and the autumnal point. By extension, the term equinox may denote an equinoctial point.
The date at which sunset and sunrise becomes exactly twelve hours apart is known as the equilux. The equinox is a precise moment in time, which is common to all observers on earth.
The pope was moved by the desire to restore the edicts about the date of Easter of the Council of Nicaea of Ad 325. Incidentally, the date of Easter itself is fixed by an approximation of lunar cycles used in the Hebraic calendar, but according to the historian Bede, the English name comes from a pagan celebration by the Germanic tribes of the vernal (spring) equinox. The shift in the date of the equinox that occurred between the 4th and 16th centuries was annulled with the Gregorian calendar, but nothing was done for the first four centuries of the Julian calendar.
On a day of the equinox, the center of the sun spends a roughly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on the earth, night and day being of roughly the same length. From the earth, the sun appears as a disc rather than a single point of light, so when the center of the sun is below the horizon, its upper edge is visible. Furthermore, the atmosphere refracts light, so even when the upper limb of the sun is below the horizon, its rays reach over the horizon to the ground.