As a child, all of my school friends thought that I was lucky because I celebrated two Easters every year. First would be “Aussie Easter” where we eat hot cross buns for breakfast and then spent the rest of the day hunting for chocolate Easter eggs that are hidden in sneaky corners around the house and garden. Then, a few weeks later we would celebrate Greek Easter with family by eating tsoureki and cracking red died, hard-boiled eggs.
Back then, I thought that the difference between Aussie Easter and Greek Easter was about the food. You get chocolate eggs for Aussie Easter and hard-boiled eggs for Greek Easter.
As an adult, I now understand that there is a much deeper reason for differences between the two Easter celebrations. I now understand that Aussie Eater is a celebration of the Catholic religion (as well as other Western religions) and that Greek Easter is a celebration of the Greek Orthodox Religion (and other Eastern religions).
But why do the Western and the Orthodox Easter celebrations fall on different dates each year?
Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but the churches base the dates on different calendars:
There is a lot of literature on the internet about the Gregorian calendar and about the Julian calendar. I would recommend that you read the article by the Greek Orthodox Archdioses of America if you are interested in learning about the history of how the calendars have evolved over time from the Orthodox Church’s perspective.
What is the difference between the Gregorian and the Julian calendars?
In very simple terms, this is what I understand….
Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar in 46 BC. This calendar was based on a regular year of 365 days, divided into 12 months with a leap day added to February every four years. The Julian year is, therefore, on average 365.25 days long.
However, it is known, that the tropical year is a few minutes shorter than a 365.25 day year and the Julian calendar does not compensate for this difference.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reformed the calendar to compensate for the difference of time for the tropical year. This is the change:
“Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100; the centurial years that are exactly divisible by 400 are still leap years. For example, the year 1900 is not a leap year; the year 2000 is a leap year” (This information was sourced from wikipedia).
Although the Orthodox Church has discussed a change to the Julian Calendar, there has not yet been a full agreement to do so. According to Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos from the GOARCH website:
“The main reason for its rejection was that the celebration of Easter would be altered and Easter would sometimes coincide with the Jewish Passover in the Gregorian calendar. Jews originally celebrated Passover on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. Christians, therefore, celebrated Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.”
As a result of these conflicting dates the Orthodox Church and the Western Church follow different Easter cycles.
So today I am celebrating ‘Aussie Easter Sunday’ with hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs but in a few weeks time on May 5, 2013 I will be cracking red eggs and eating tsoureki.
How do you celebrate Easter?
Related posts you might like:
- The Greek Tradition of the “Clean Monday”
- Learn About Great Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church
- Easter Candles – A Traditions for Children and Their God Parents
Sia Aristidou is fascinated by the rituals and traditions celebrated in Greek culture. Sia writes about love, marriage, family and tradition and sells beautiful handmade wedding gifts at the Greek Wedding Shop.
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