Friday, March 21, 2008


Easter is coming. In case you share my holiday confusion which seems to be wide spread in multi-national workplaces, Easter is an official holiday in Canada, it is not in the USA, it is in Germany, and (as my husband informs me for quite obscure reasons) it is not in Rumania. Feel free to add your observances.

Just to remind you what Easter is about: it's the time of the year when the bunnies lay eggs, and we sacrifice the last chocolate Santa-Claus, which will be reborn on Easter Monday. It's the time of the year when German Rabbis argue with the Pope about the wording of prayers and other nations spray-paint chickens. It's the time of the year when the stores have to rearrange their seasonal event's section to make place for Mother's day, and kids put the chocolate eggs under the sofa pillows, so watch out.

Here in Waterloo, we still have snow but it's slowly melting. Yesterday I got caught between a remaining 2m snowbarrier and a potholy street with muddy puddles. An approaching bus managed to produce a very impressive wall of dirty ice-water that soaked my clothes from head to the toes. Spring is coming! And it's about time cause I accidentally threw one of my last gloves down the garbage chute. However, I just talked to my neighbor who informs me his father is a meteorologist and (blahblahblahblah) it will apparently remain below zero around here for at least the next two weeks.

A very happy Easter to all of our readers :-)


changcho said...

"it's the time of the year when the bunnies lay eggs..." and we hunt for eggs in the garden with the kids, and eat lots of chocolate. It's turned into a very secular kind of thing for us (which I think it's very good). My wife, to my chagrin, won't cook meat though, only fish. Happy Easter!

Uncle Al said...

The Easter Bunny is a gay escort paid off in decorated stolen eggs by the Keebler Elves. (Don't ask how eggs are smuggled out of the cookie factories.)

Philippines flagellants 5620 hits

Hold up your white eggs as they parade by and presto! Decorated! Yahweh is singularly disinterested in human suffering other than to inflict it. As His priests say, "Hodie mihi, cras tibi."

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee, Stephan, fellow commenters and others,

In as this is a science blog I thought it would be interesting to note that the date of Easter is a complex calculation determined by the spring equinox and what’s called the Paschal full moon which is not a actual full moon but rather is something derived from a table and can differ from an actual one by as much a two days. The rest is so complex it eludes me after only quick examination, so I will let the rest be left to your own investigation. One interesting thing about this is the statistics in regards to the frequency of occurrence as taken from Wikipedia:

“The cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times, or 3.9% compared to a median for all dates of 189,525 times, or 3.3%.”

All a Happy Easter,


Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

Sorry I just noticed I addressed you as Stephan rather then what it should have been, which of course is Stefan. So as a consequence I have egg on my face (fitting since it’s Easter). To even the score, the next time you address me you should do so as Fill; or some other four letter word if you prefer:-)



Bee said...

Hey Fill,

Don't worry, he's used to it. Stephan is still better than Steven. Either way, I just recalled a funny anecdote about a friend of mine. As a Dr. Phil. Nat. there's been a case where his first name accidentally became a 'Phil' (no kidding).



stefan said...

Hi Fill ;-)

( wife has scooped me with the Fill, I'll use it anyhow)... never mind! Thanks for pointing out these rules for computing the date of Easter and the Wikipedia links.

I vaguely remembered that in the "first Sunday after the first full moon in spring" rule, neither the full moon nor the beginning of spring are actually the true astronomical dates of these events. But that's because the rules go back to 325 AD ;-) And your links have lead me to a Wikipedia entry on Computus, which seems to explain all you can possibly want to know about this question ;-). There is also a nice plot that shows that Easter is as early as March 24 only in 1.5 percent of all years.

Best, Stefan.

BTW, I was glad to learn that today, Good Friday, is no holiday in Romania - I'm not sure about Sunday and Monday.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

“As a Dr. Phil. Nat. there's been a case where his first name accidentally became a 'Phil' (no kidding).

I feel sorry for your friend, although it is funny. It is truly the fault of the addressor rather then the addressee. Phil however is never a bad thing to be called since it is ancient Greek for “love”. However, my actual name is Philip, which is Greek for “lover of horses” and as such I have never been thrilled with the way this could be misinterpreted. However, there is as you know is a well known Dr. Phil which in my opinion truly is a gnat, rather then a nat :-)



Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

“( wife has scooped me with the Fill, I'll use it anyhow)”

So then does two Fill(s) make one too full :-) I’m glad you found my reference to the timing of Easter as interesting. I was almost certain you would grasp the whole thing sooner then me. Now as for that plot it seems to indicate a particle behavior rather then that of a wave :-)

Once again) happy Easter,


Sorry yet another typo

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee - be careful what you wish for - I am so glad it is cold and snowy again here in VT as last Sunday a very muddy road threatened to swallow my little Subaru!

This looks to be a very bad mud season.. and I suspect city dwellers like you will find out just how bad the roads are (our 'improved' ones around here are looking pretty bad, especially those that were 'paved' quickly last year. Maybe next time they use black paint and save some money).

Sorry about the bus.. are you sure it wasn't a nyc cab? they are quite famous for doing that :(

You know that talk about chocolate easter eggs got me to cool would a 'physics of chocolate' post be! mmmmm

Frank said...

Easter doesn't really happen here, no bonfires, no nothing (though it is a bank holiday), but on the same note, tesco does deliver groceries on easter sunday so it's not all bad. ;)

Happy Easter

Neil' said...

Hi, since Sunday is normally a holiday for most workers and for government workers anyway, I am wondering in what sense it is more officially so in Canada, Germany etc. I suppose that means, those who work in stores, restaurants etc. have special rights, extra pay etc. if they are asked to work on Easter Sunday?

BTW, for those who have trouble believing in the supernatural (no blame from me here, albeit I am more open-minded than most): Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, that the fundamental meaning of Christ was to die to self, to have the limited selfish person be replaced by a person that cared as much about everyone else as him or her self. This is not very attainable in toto, but is an "imitation of Christ" that can be approached. It sounds a lot like Buddhism and the ideals of other great religions and philosophies when put that way.

There is a purely logical justification, even though such thoughts seem hopelessly sentimental: you don't really have a reason to think you are more important or worthy than others (other than specific obligations etc.) and so a perfectly logical being would actually recognize this and not distinguish self from other selves in importance. The claim of "objectivists" that they represent the height of reason is a complete inversion of what is truly logical.

Have a happy Easter whatever you believe in.

Anonymous said...

Extremely useless piece of info.

In Romania one of the the official holidays is the Orthodox Easter. Although traditionally the holiday is three days long, only the Easter Sunday and Monday are non-working.

Thomas Larsson said...

the date of Easter is a complex calculation determined by the spring equinox

This year Easter is extremely early, with the equinox happening on Easter Thursday. This has the unfortunate consequence that Ascension (40 days after Easter day) coincides with May 1st, which means one less holiday than usual this spring.

Lumo said...

Dear Phil Warnell, it may be complex but it is not infinitely complex. Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox.

Bee said...

Hi Neil',

I am wondering in what sense it is more officially so in Canada, Germany etc. I suppose that means, those who work in stores, restaurants etc. have special rights, extra pay etc. if they are asked to work on Easter Sunday?

I meant that Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays. In Germany that means shops are closed. At least here in Waterloo, most shops are also closed.

Hi Anonymous,

You are completely correct, it's a useless piece of information. I wasn't writing an essay about the worldwide Easter holidays, which one can probably easily look up elsewhere. What Stefan actually said was that Good Friday isn't a holiday in Romania, the omission of details is sloppiness on my bee-half.



Bee said...

Elias, please do not advertise your own writings in my comment sections if they are completely unrelated to the topic. - B.

Bee said...

Hey Snowboarder,

I just met that neighbor again... he informs he his father is convinced we will have snow on Tuesday. Or was it Thursday? Either way, I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I thought it might cheer you up.

Sorry about the bus.. are you sure it wasn't a nyc cab?

What are the odds a nyc cab would be seen in Waterloo, Ontario?

I talked to a bus driver the other day. Was more or less coincidentally and likely not the same driver. Turns out he studied some semester physics and I talked him through the action principle in GR/dark energy/dark matter/cosmology/inflation etc in about 30 minutes, I was impressed (top intelligent community of the world and so on). That's just to say my sympathy for bus drivers has recovered.



Bee said...

Hi Elias, I just noticed my husband already deleted your comment, seems he thought it was spam... Best, B.

Neil' said...

Hello, I am just curious about how Blogger denotes various actions: the deleted comment shows as "This post has been removed by the author." (Assuming that's the one referred to in thread.) Well, it doesn't show whether the original author or a moderator removed it? I see a little trash can for awhile that I can use to delete my own post (at least, maybe since I am on Blogger myself) and I thought that announcement was only about such actions. It seems to me, for clarity and the appreciation of the readers, Blogger should show whether author or moderator deleted a post.

Bee said...

Hi Neil',

I am sure blogger used to show 'This comment has been removed by a blog administrator' after the fact - at least this was visible when logged in as an administrator on said blog. But it seems now they are just completely gone. Like, there is no residual from the comments Stefan deleted recently. Either way, if the note says 'removed by the author' it was indeed deleted by the author. The one that you probably refer to above was Phil's if I recall that correctly (probably a typo or so, but I don't read all comments and I delete the emails after I've decided they are okay), not the one by Elias that Stefan deleted, in case that was what you were wondering about. Best,


Glenn said...

Happy Easter!
Well, actually there are no easter bunnies in our part of the world...but lots of flagellants are recuperating now and hoping for more than Easter eggs.

changcho said...

From Meeus' Astronomical Algorithms:
"The extreme dates of Easter are March 22 (as in 1818 and 2285) and April 25 (as in 1886, 1943 and 2038)".