Issue 147: 2018 03 29:Not A Moveable Feast

29 March 2018

Not A Moveable Feast

The milk chocolate Easter Act.

By Neil Tidmarsh

Stop!  Put that Easter egg down, madam!  Put it down, and step away!  Slowly!  You’re under arrest!

Right, sergeant, get the cuffs on her.  And search this house.  Get the men in and get the chocolate-sniffer dogs in and turn the whole place upside down.

What’s that, madam?  Why have you been arrested?  For breaking the law, that’s why.  What law?  I’ll tell you what law.  The Easter Act of 1928, that’s what.  “An Act to regulate the date of Easter Day and days or other periods and occasions depending thereon”, enacted on 3rd of August of that year, and the law of the land ever since.

Watch out!  Behind you, sarge!  Who’s that?  Your mother, madam?  But what’s that in her hand?  Look out, sergeant!  It’s hot-cross buns!  She’s got a whole plate of hot-cross buns!  Stay right where you are, grandma!  Don’t move an inch!  You what?  They’re for who?  For us?  For me?  Now look here, grandma, you’re in enough trouble as it is, serious trouble, without trying to frame a police officer with your own crimes!  Take them off her, sergeant, and bag them up.  That’s evidence, that is.  And keep your hands where I can see them, grandma!

Right – now – what was I saying?  What were you saying?  How can celebrating Easter be against the law?  I’ll tell you how – when it isn’t Easter, that’s how!  What makes you think today – Sunday 1st April 2018 – is Easter Sunday, huh?  You tell me that!

What?  Because what?  Because it’s the what Sunday after the first what after the Spring what?  Come again?  The first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox?  What?  Don’t make my brain hurt!  This isn’t the Middle Ages, you know!  This is the 21st century, and we’ve got the 1928 Easter Act to prove it!  This Act, it says –

Hang on, who’ve you got there, sarge?  Madam’s husband, is it?  Where did you find him?  In the sitting room?  And what was he doing in the sitting-room?  Hiding Easter eggs, was he?  Ah, there you go, hiding his stash, clear indication of guilt!  You don’t deny it, sir?  Why not?  Because you were making an Easter egg hunt for the kids?  Oh, come off it, sir, do you look like the Easter Bunny?  You say you were pretending to be the Easter bunny?  Why?  Are you telling me the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist?  Ha ha ha, as if!  Ridiculous!  Course it does!  You’ll be telling me Father Christmas doesn’t exist next!  Or the tooth fairy!  Come on, sir, what kind of a fool do you take me for?  Cuff him, sarge!

Now, as I was saying, this Act, the Easter Act of 1928, passed by Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative government (King George V on the throne, Blackburn Rovers beat Huddersfield FC 3-1 in the FA Cup, Heinz Baked Beans manufactured in the UK for the first time, what a year), put an end to all this Medieval jiggery-pokery, all this to-ing and fro-ing with the lunar calendar and the solar calendar and the full whats-it and the Spring thingy, and fixed the date of Easter once and for all: the Sunday in the middle of April – specifically the Sunday in the second weekend in April – that is, the Sunday between the 9th April and the 15th April – hang on, that’s beginning to sound a bit complicated… Is that right, sarge?  Let’s think about it for a moment… I’ve got the actual words here… “Easter-day shall, in the calendar year next but one after the commencement of this Act and in all subsequent years, be the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April…”  yes, that’s it…

So Easter Sunday this year – 2018 – it isn’t until April 15th!  Right?  Another two weeks yet!  Right?  So you’re all breaking the law – right? – so you’re all under arrest!  All right, sarge, let’s get them out of here.  Let’s get them into the van and down to the nick.  Come on, we’ve got a busy day ahead of us.  Hundreds of churches to raid, scores of vicars to arrest, dozens of bishops to nick, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York…

Sergeant?  Why aren’t you talking to me, sergeant?  Is your mouth full?  What’s that brown stuff on your face?  Why are there crumbs on your chest?  Sergeant..?


Note: No, this is not an Easter April fool; Stanley Baldwin’s government did indeed pass the Easter Act in 1928, and the Act does indeed fix the date of Easter as the Sunday after the second Saturday in April. It has never been brought into force – it’s the oldest act of parliament never to have been implemented – but it remains on the statute book. So, dear reader, don’t say you weren’t warned if your Easter egg hunt this Sunday is ruined by a rude interruption, on this 90th anniversary of the Act.  As for me, I’m playing it safe.  I won’t be tucking into my chocolate eggs until the second Sunday in April.  Hang on, isn’t that the 8th, not the 15th?  That can’t be right… Ah, the Saturday in the first weekend in April this year is actually in March, the last day of March… so Easter is the third Sunday in April… Is that right?  It’s all beginning to sound a bit complicated… a tad confusing… What does that Act say again..?





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