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Orthodox Easter is Based on the Julian Calendar

Updated on April 13, 2020
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl is a freelance writer, poet, newspaper columnist, minister and published author, and founder of two outreach ministries.

Orthodox Easter Greeting
Orthodox Easter Greeting

Orthodox celebration

At a time when most believers in the resurrection of Christ are finalizing their Holy Week observances, there are other Christians who are preparing to celebrate Easter on a different date. Orthodox Easter, also known as Pascha, takes place at a later time than the traditional resurrection Sunday because the Orthodox Church goes by the dates on the Julian calendar. Traditional Christians have deemed Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox on March 21st. Orthodox believers will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on April 19, in 2020. This is one week later than the traditional holiday is observed.

In the United States of America, the three most well known Orthodox churches are the Romanian, the Russian and the Greek congregations. This Orthodox observance of Resurrection Sunday is not a federal holiday but because it is on the first day of the week, many businesses have reduced hours or are closed the same way they are on Easter Sunday. In 325 AD, the Council of Nicea decided upon the date for the traditional observance of Christ's resurrection. The Orthodox celebration begins with Great Lent, which starts on Clean Monday and lasts for 40 days. The festivities conclude on Lazarus Saturday.

Lazarus raised from the dead
Lazarus raised from the dead

Clean Monday and Lazarus Saturday

For those of the Orthodox faith, Easter begins with the Great Lent, which starts on Clean Monday. It lasts for forty days and ends on Lazarus Saturday. Clean Monday is also known as Ash Monday or Pure Monday. It is a day to consider spiritual as well as physical purity. The Great Lent is closed out by the Vespers, which is an evening prayer at sunset. This is held during the Lazarus Saturday service, which is always the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday. This is the celebration of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead.. Holy Week begins, after Lent and concludes with Easter Sunday. The Orthodox Easter begins with what is called the Midnight Office. This is when at midnight, the church lights a candle and has all lights off. This is to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and may be because some Jewish Christians say He rose around midnight on the Sabbath and not Sunday morning, There is a procession that goes around the altar three times as a symbol of the three days that Christ was in the tomb. This is followed by a feast on Sunday morning that concludes the fasting of for Great Lent. Clean Monday is a public holiday in Cyprus and Greece.

Easter eggs died red for the blood of Jesus
Easter eggs died red for the blood of Jesus

Orthadox Easter traditions

There are traditions observed by the Orthodox believers in Christ that are not utilized by Christian who celebrate the traditional Easter. During the time leading up to Orthodox Easter, those who observe it will greet each other with what is called a Paschal greeting. One person says "Christ is risen!" and another person responds with "He is risen indeed, or Truly He is risen". For the Paschal meal that concludes Lent, Orthodox Christians usually eat a sweet Easter bread called Tsoureki Paschalino, along with They also may eat boiled eggs, smoked meats, Pashka Easter bread cake, and cheeses. This meal is usually accompanied by red wine. There is also a tradition of blessing baskets of food

Orthodox Easter eggs do have one thing in common with those who boil and color eggs when they celebrate the traditional resurrection day. The Orthodox Christians also hard boi, dye l and eat Easter eggs. There is one difference, however, which is that Orthodox believers only dye their eggs resin or red. This is done in order to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ. The egg also represents fertility and birth.To officially close the Great Lent, the Vespers, a sunset evening prayer, is held during Lazarus Saturday services. After Lent, Holy Week begins, which ends with Easter Sunday. Orthodox Easter begins with the Midnight Office. For this, the church has its lights off, and a candle is lit at midnight, symbolizing the resurrection of Jesus. Then, there is a procession that goes around the altar three times in a symbol of the three days that Jesus spent in the tomb. This is succeeded by a feast on Sunday morning that ends the fasting of the event called the Great Lent.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


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    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      6 weeks ago from Roanoke

      Thank you for reading Ms. Dora

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for these facts on Orthodox Easter. Many of the terms and traditions are new to me.


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