Monday, March 24, 2008

It's not our Easter yet

What? It's not your Easter yet? We are Orthodox Christians and we will not be celebrating Pascha (Easter) until April 26th. We are in the midst of Great Lent still. We did get together with family yesterday (nobody else in our family is Orthodox) and celebrate. The boys hunted for eggs and we had a great time catching up with hubby's family. I really like having Western and Eastern Easter dates separate. We enjoy seeing family and then during Holy Week and Pascha we spend our time at church. I will be blogging over the next weeks about what we are doing and the various services. Below is an explanation of why Western and Eastern Easter have different dates.
Western churches use the Gregorian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter and Eastern Orthodox churches use the Julian Calendar. This is partly why the dates are rarely the same.
Easter and its related holidays do not fall on a fixed date in either the Gregorian or Julian calendars, making them moveable holidays. The dates, instead, are based on a lunar calendar very similar to the Hebrew Calendar.
The Eastern Orthodox Church not only maintains the date of Easter based on the Julian Calendar which was in use during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD, but also according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual vernal equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem. This complicates the matter, due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar, and the 13 days that have accrued since 325 AD. This means, in order to stay in line with the originally established (325 AD) vernal equinox, Orthodox Easter cannot be celebrated before April 3 (present day Gregorian calendar), which was March 21 in 325 AD.
Additionally, in keeping with the rule established by the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, the Eastern Orthodox Church adhered to the tradition that Easter must always fall after the Jewish Passover, since the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ happened after the celebration of Passover. Eventually the Orthodox Church came up with an alternative to calculating Easter based on Passover, and developed a 19-year cycle, as opposed to the Western Church 84-year cycle.


  1. This is so interesting! I can't wait to read more!

    God Bless,

  2. Yes, thanks for this... I never knew. One of my girls has a good friend who is Orthodox, and I knew they celebrated easter at a different day, but didn't know why.

    I look forward to reading all about it!



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