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7 questions on the history of Easter

Easter history quiz

It's Holy Week, an event which jumps around the calendar. But new research drawing on Biblical, historical and astronomical sources suggests there could finally be a fixed date for Easter Sunday. Test yourself on the history of this Christian event.

Jesus on cross stained glass window

1.) Missing Word Question

Last Supper 'was on a * '

  1. Sunday
  2. Wednesday
  3. Thursday

2.) Multiple Choice Question

So how is the date of Easter set in Western countries?

Stained glass - Jesus's hand on the cross
  1. To fall on the full Moon
  2. Sunday following first full Moon after spring equinox
  3. When the constellation of Lepus, the rabbit, is directly over Bethlehem

3.) Multiple Choice Question

This year Easter Sunday falls on 24 April. Is this date the latest it can be?

Girl with Easter Bunny
  1. Yes
  2. No

4.) Multiple Choice Question

The English word "Easter" is unlike many other languages' terms for the festival, probably deriving from "Eostre". What is "Eostre" theorised to have been?

Hot cross buns
  1. Germanic goddess
  2. Term for rebirth
  3. Ceremonial goat
  4. Sacred forest

5.) Multiple Choice Question

Good Friday marks Jesus's death on the cross, and church services on this day typically revolve around his last words, as quoted in the Bible. Which ISN'T one of his last utterances?

  1. I am thirsty
  2. Behold the Man
  3. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
  4. It is finished

6.) Multiple Choice Question

At the Ceremony of the Royal Maundy, held the day before Good Friday, what does Britain's sovereign do?

Queen at Maundy Thursday ceremony in 2009
  1. Washes parishioners' feet as gesture of humility
  2. Gives clothes and food to the poor
  3. Gives special coins to local pensioners

7.) Multiple Choice Question

In 1928, the House of Commons agreed a law to fix the date of Easter (although this was never implemented).

Good Friday in calendar
  1. True
  2. False

Answers

  1. It's Wednesday. Cambridge University's Colin Humphreys has theorised the date was 1 April AD33 - a Wednesday, not a Thursday as traditionally thought. He believes his findings could present a case for fixing Easter to the first Sunday in April.
  2. It's the Sunday following the first full Moon after spring equinox - not the full Moon seen in the sky, but a notional "Paschal" full Moon. Eastern parts of the Christian world use a different system, and usually mark Easter about a week later. The first full Moon after the equinox also signals the start of the Jewish festival of Passover.
  3. No - the latest possible date is 25 April, but we haven't had that since 1943 and won't again until 2038. The earliest it can be celebrated is 22 March.
  4. Eostre was a Germanic goddess, although the evidence for this comes only from the writings of the historian Bede in the 8th Century.
  5. It's "Behold the Man" - that's attributed to Pontius Pilate as he presented Christ to the people.
  6. It's the coins - a ceremony dating from the 13th Century. Some sovereigns also gave clothing and food, and some washed the recipients' feet - the last to do this was James II, who died in 1701.
  7. True - the plan was for Easter to fall on the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Meanwhile, in 1990, the Vatican approved a proposal for a fixed date - subject to agreement with other Christian churches and governments, which has not yet been reached.

Your Score

0 - 3 : Hot and cross

4 - 6 : Hopping along

7 - 7 : Easy-ter

For past quizzes including our weekly news quiz, 7 days 7 questions, expand the grey drop-down below - also available on the Magazine page (and scroll down).

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