Why did students have a day off on Easter Tuesday?

The Tuesday after Easter Monday was a school holiday, but not a statutory holiday, meaning that schools had to be shut while everyone else went back to work.

According to the Ministry of Education, we usually don't notice the Easter Tuesday holiday.

That's because since the introduction of four term school years in 1996, the terms and holidays have been set so that Easter takes place during the first term break.

But in some years Easter falls earlier than usual, such as in 1997, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2016 and this year.

In years where Easter falls earlier, having the first two-week break then would shorten the school term to about 8 - 9 weeks instead of the usual 12. This would have a flow-on effect, meaning the other three terms would have to be longer.

Since the Ministry of Education tries to set terms of reasonably uniform length, when Easter happens early all or some of the Easter break takes place during the first term.

The rule to close schools on Easter Tuesday was first introduced in 1954.

It's unclear why exactly it was introduced, but the holiday has remained in place and is part of the Education Act legislation.

"Given the long standing requirement for schools to close on Easter Tuesday it is no longer known why it was introduced," a Ministry of Education spokesperson said.

In 2019 and 2020 the Easter break and Easter Tuesday will fall within the first term school break, so the school holiday won't be noticeable.

Easter is different to events with a uniform date such as Christmas, Valentine's Day or Anzac Day. It can fall anytime between March 22 and April 25.

Easter is supposed to fall on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary.