Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the time of year when the number of daylight hours and night hours are approximately the same all over the earth) or the first day of spring. Kids love to calculate all this! Have them work in small groups and give each group a calendar or calendar pages that show the phases of the moon. You can find calendar pages here: Lenten Calendar V2.1.
Point out the phases of the moon and the vernal equinox (March 19) that are indicated on the pages. Then have students calculate the date for Easter and other important Lenten days using the steps below.
- Locate the full moon after the vernal equinox. (April 7)
- Find the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the time of year when daylight hours and night hours are approximately the same all over the earth), or the first day of spring. (April 12) Mark that as Easter.
- Locate the Sunday before Easter. (April 5) Mark that as Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.
- Count back six Sundays from Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. (February 14). Mark the Wednesday of that week (February 26) Ash Wednesday.
- Mark the First Sunday of Lent (March 1), the Second Sunday of Lent (March 8), and the Third Sunday of Lent (March 15).
- Mark the Fourth Sunday of Lent as Laetare Sunday (March 22). Traditionally, Laetare Sunday is a day of rejoicing within this solemn penitential season. It is not too late to use the remaining two weeks of Lent fruitfully so that we are prepared to truly celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection on Easter.
- Mark the Fifth Sunday of Lent. (March 29)
- Mark the dates of the Triduum: Holy Thursday (April 9), Good Friday (April 10), and Holy Saturday (April 11).
Encourage students to take their Lenten calendars home and post them for all to see. Invite them to write on each square what they have done that day to prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Kate Ristow has been involved in children’s religious education for over 25 years as a Catholic-school teacher and parish catechist.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, December 2009.
Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash