It hasn’t happened for 62 years and won’t happen again until 2029 – Easter Sunday and April Fools Day falling on the same day! It does happen this year. Please be sure you don’t get the two confused.
The date of Easter has been determined the same way since the council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon, after the vernal equinox on March 21st. That means that the earliest date that Easter can come is March the 22nd. The latest it can be is April 25th. This year it falls on April 1st.
April Fools Day falls on a different day each year. It received special recognition when April 1st was considered the beginning of the New Year. In 1582 Pope Gregory VIII gave us a new calendar which put New Years Day on January 1. Some people didn’t like the change and started making fun of the folks who didn’t change and would send them on, “Fools errands,” and try to trick them into believing something false. The victims of those jokes were known as “April’s fools.”
Two vastly different days – Easter and April Fools Day. One is based on fact and answers the deepest questions of life; the other is based on fiction where people fall for something untrue and become an “April fool.”
I expect all of us have had some fun on April 1st playing a joke on somebody. The oldest joke I remember was taking the salt and pepper shakers and unscrewing the top so that when you used the salt, the whole container emptied. Someone would also invite people to some event that didn’t exist. People were “fooled.”
Easter is not about fooling people. Some modern philosophies are trying to fool people, by disclaiming the reality of the resurrection. Even in Jesus’ day some people thought it might have been a hoax, and the soldiers moved the body. But history and experience have proved differently! The Risen Lord appeared to individuals and groups. Read Luke 24 and John 20 and 21. Paul raises the resurrection question in I Cor. 15:12, and then answers it in I Cor.15:13-58 .
Easter is not a trick. Sin can trick us into making a fool out of ourselves – but the cross and Easter have the answer to the trick sin tries to play. It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that forgiveness of our sins and the certainty of heaven is offered.
It’s interesting that lie and life are close in spelling, but vastly different in meaning. April Fools is based on a lie. Easter is based on life – now and life eternal.
March Madness created both March gladness or March sadness for every team. There were winners and losers. Easter is about a victory where no one has to be a loser. The Easter invitation is for every person to experience the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection and the reality of God’s presence in the world today. That’s why Paul writes, “O grave where is your victory, O death where is your sting? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Cor. 15:55-57)
What is April 1st for you – April Fools or Easter celebration? It’s your choice.