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Calculating the date for Easter is among the most arcane mysteries in Christendom. The shorthand version: Easter arrives the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox - anywhere from March 22 to April 25. But, as Guy Ottewell's Astronomical Calendar explains, the Roman Catholic Church uses formulas written in A.D. 325 to end debate about how to do the astronomy. If the Vatican followed the moon and season exactly, Ottewell says, it would have changed the dates of 78 of the last 1,000 Easters.

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