2008 marks the earliest Easter in a lifetime | NevadaAppeal.com

2008 marks the earliest Easter in a lifetime

Tanya Canino and Jean Eick
Nevada Appeal News Service

NORTH LAKE TAHOE – With red-stained hands, Pastor Chip Larson of Christ the King Lutheran Church described why he just finished dying hundreds of Easter eggs red.

“This is an old, old tradition to give out red eggs to represent the early sunrise spilling onto the stone as it was rolled away,” said Larson, of the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

This year, however, the sun will rise Easter morning earlier than it has for a lifetime. The last time Easter fell on March 23 was in 1913; and it will not fall on March 23 again until 2228.

It has fallen earlier, according to records: March 22, 1818. It will be the earliest Easter until March 22, 2285.

“You would have to be 95 or above to have experienced an earlier Easter,” said Kathyrn Dunning, pastor of the Kings Beach United Methodist Church.

Easter is determined by the Hebrew calendar, and it is on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. The spring equinox was Thursday and the full moon is today, she said. However, Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month in the Jewish calendar year. So this year, the eight-day Jewish holiday marking the liberation of Israelites from slavery falls about a month after Easter, running from April 19-26.

The early date for Easter has some wondering how it will affect the celebration.

Larson holds a sunrise service on Tahoe City’s Commons Beach with the First Baptist Church of Tahoe City that usually attracts 100 people every year; and he is a little concerned about the faithful getting up that early when it is still winter outside.

The service was changed from its normal time of 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. this year, in time to see the sunrise over Lake Tahoe at 6:58 a.m. While there is still snow on the beach, the walkways and the parking lot are clear, he said.

At the Kings Beach United Methodist Church, the traditional sunrise service on the beach has given way in the last couple of years to an inside sunrise service, Dunning said.

“I prefer to go to the outdoor service but it always depends on the weather,” said Ruth Steele, a member of the church. “It is an exciting time to see the sun come up and be there praising the Lord.”

Whether one greets the sun on Easter day or not, most people who go to church should be ready for Easter.

“We live in such a secular world that people think Easter is very early,” Dunning said.

However, many Christians have been observing Lent for the past six weeks.

“We’ve been preparing for Easter for six weeks. It shouldn’t seem early for us in the church, although it does,” she said.

Jim Beebe, pastor of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, also is not worried about Easter being early this year.

“It is going to work out just fine,” he said.