Friday, March 21, 2008

On roaming Easters

In my previous post Time to stabilise the date of Easter? I mentioned the Easter Act 1928 which sought to stabilise the date of Easter in the UK to the Sunday after the second Saturday in April (as April 7th is the traditional date for the Crucifixion) but which has never been brought into force. The main reason is that the Churches have been unable to reach agreement on a single date, leaving us with the current situation whereby Easter roams across the months of March and April with little regard for the impact on calendars.

I can remember back in 2000 when Easter fell as late as April 23. The result was we had two Bank Holiday Mondays (Easter Monday and May Day) in a row, schools and universities found that they either had to start the summer term rather later than they'd have liked or incorporate yet another holiday early on. This year we're seeing the same problem at the other end, with the result that many children are still at school and so consequently families have a much shorter period in which they can go away for Easter. In turn this has just compounded the travel chaos this weekend.

Having a fixed date has done no harm to Christmas, but fixing a date for Easter would require agreement amongst the churches (and detaching the holy day from the holiday would be an unwise move) and that may be some way off. However individual churches and states could at least make an effort by encouraging discussion on potential dates and generating pressure for a settlement.

One minor problem that could be solved is the current bunching of holidays in the spring. By replacing the May Day bank holiday with one in the autumn it would better balance holidays across the year, bring some much needed relief in the autumn and reduce the disruption in the spring.

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