Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why The Easter Bunny Comes Early This Year

Easter is Sunday, much earlier than usual this year, and many people are scratching their heads. Isn't it still cold out? Didn't we just celebrate Christmas?
As it turns out, there's a very simple explanation, and it has nothing to do with the church, a vast religious conspiracy or even a complex marketing scheme on the part of candy-makers and egg farmers.
It's the moon.
Easter always comes on the Sunday after the first, or Paschal, full moon following the first day of spring.
Spring arrives on Thursday and the moon will be full on Friday, the earliest Paschal moon since 1913.
And that means Easter, the Christian holiday marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is this Sunday. It won't come this early again for another 220 or so years.
"It’s a scientific thing," FOX News religion analyst Father Jonathan Morris said. "Easter is always based on the Hebrew tradition of being able to detect a day for the celebration of Passover."
The Christian calendar generally mirrors the Jewish one, and Passover and Easter are usually very close together. But that isn't always the case because of the Christian calendar's strict adherence to the lunar cycle.
Passover follows both the lunar and solar cycles and is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month in the Jewish calendar year. So this year, the eight-day Jewish holiday marking the liberation of Israelites from slavery falls about a month after Easter, beginning on April 19 and going through the 26th.
Morris said Christian traditions leading up to Easter, their holiest holiday — including Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Good Friday — have gone on as usual this year. It's just that some churchgoers have felt a little blindsided by the timing.
"It doesn't change any of the liturgical celebrations. They're all still present," he said. "But people say, 'Oh my gosh, I had a hard time preparing for this spiritually. It feels crunched after Christmas.'"
Faithful Christians aren't the only ones having to adjust to the fast-approaching Easter holiday. That famous bunny that hides eggs and brings chocolates to children around the world in a symbolic tradition commemorating the start of spring had to be extra organized this year, too.
It could be worse. In 1818, Easter arrived on the earliest possible day: March 22.
Morris doesn't think the timing is so off that people will forget about Easter altogether, however.
"We'll just remind people that now is the time to prepare for these holy days," he said. "They're all still there."

Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann's Parents Receive $1 Million, Front-Page Apologies in U.K. Newspapers
LONDON — The parents of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann have received more than $1 million in damages and profuse apologies from tabloid newspapers for "numerous grotesque" and "defamatory" articles suggesting that they caused their daughter's death.
Kate and Gerry McCann said Wednesday that Express Newspapers has agreed to pay the equivalent of $1.1 million, or £550,000. The couple's lawyer said the money would go into a fund they have set up to help find their daughter.
Express has also been forced to say it's sorry for more than 100 inaccurate articles written about the McCanns, according to Sky News.

Boy, 2, in 999 drama dialed 999 and saved his mother

A boy of two saved his mum's life - by dialing 999. Toddler Joshua Brookes kept his nerve after mum Isobel collapsed unconscious at home.
The youngster picked up a telephone and called the emergency services, telling an operator: `Mummy won't wake up'.
Police operator Paula Hall told the toddler to shake his mum and the line went quiet as he went away to try to rouse her. Moments later, Joshua returned and - becoming frightened - said: `It hasn't worked.'
Paula struggled to get him to reveal his name, even asking what name Father Christmas put on his presents, but in the end, police used the phone number to track his address.
They then sent help to the boy's home in Wigan, while the operator tried to keep him calm and told him to open the front door for the police. When they arrived, Joshua used a box to stand on and reached the door handle to let them in. Police found Isobel, 30, who suffers from a rare heart condition, unconscious.
The mum-of-two was revived and awoke to see paramedics standing over her. She was taken to hospital and made a full recovery. Joshua is now being hailed as a life-saving hero after details were revealed for the first time.