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The peculiarities of the calendar, however, make the dates vary slightly as compared with the lattice.The graph more closely resembles a quasicrystal, a molecular structure built for the first time in the early 1980s.The church’s new procedure for calculating the date of Easter assigned each year a number called the Epact, an integer between 0 and 29.This number reveals the phase of the moon on January 1 of each year, with 0 indicating a new moon and 15 a full moon.It was a tidy system, but unfortunately it did not accurately account for the true lengths of the lunar month and solar year.

The last such correction occurred in 1900, and the next will be needed in 2200.Using the Golden Number and Epact for any given year, one can calculate the date of the first full moon of spring.To determine the date of Easter—the first Sunday after the full moon—the church assigned each year a dominical letter, from A to G, indicating the date of that year’s first Sunday: A for January 1, B for January 2, and so on.Second, the New Testament says the crucifixion took place during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which is celebrated for eight days following the first full moon of spring.The date of Easter is thus linked to several astronomical cycles, and it is here that the difficulties arise.In 1990 Alan Mackay, a crystallographer at the University of London, realized that this near-regular slippage ought to show up in a graph that compared the date of Easter with the number of the year.The result is approximately a regular lattice, like the arrangement of atoms in a crystal.Algorithms Calendar Calculations: Easter Is a Quasicrystal Revealing the divine mathematics of a holiday MATHEMATICAL RECREATIONS by Ian Stewart Scientific American, March 2001 Ten years ago my first Mathematical Recreations column was about Fermat’s Christmas Theorem.With the Lenten season upon us, it seems only fitting to devote this 96th, and my final, column to Easter.In general terms, the date of Easter slips back by about eight days each year until it hops forward again.The pattern looks irregular but actually follows the arithmetical procedure just described.

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