Orthodox Easter 2024

Orthodox Easter was 16 days ago.

In 2024 Orthodox Easter was on May 5th (sunday).

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were the most significant historical and religious events for all Christians – both those from the West and from the East. The annual commemoration of these events is observed by most Christians around the world as Easter. Orthodox Easter, also known as Pascha, is often observed on a bit different date than Easter – the difference might be even 5 weeks.

What is the difference between Orthodox Easter and Easter?
The main difference is the date, which is a result of following the Julian calendar instead of Gregorian calendar. Even though in both cases the date of Easter is dependent on the full moon and the March equinox, because of the miscalculation of astronomy the Julian calendar’s full moon is often few days later than the astronomical full moon. This is why in most western countries the date of Easter is usually between March 22 and April 25, while in Orthodox Christian communities it usually varies between April 4 and May 8.

How often do Orthodox and Catholic Easter coincide?
There are some exceptional years when both Catholic and Orthodox Churches observe Easter on the same day. This is not a repeatable sequence, but we might assume that this happens on average every three years, although in 2010 and 2011 this exception occurred year by year. After 2017, however, the dates will not coincide until 2025! Why does this happen? The dates of eastern Pascha and western Easter only meet when the full moon following the equinox is the first full moon after March 21 in both Julian and Gregorian calendars.

Why are Catholic and Orthodox Easter different?
Except for different dates, there are not many significant differences between the holidays, for the meaning and traditions are very similar in both western and eastern Christianity. In both cases preparations to Easter begin with a 40-day strict fasting, but the difference is the way different Churches begin it. In Catholic Church there is Ash Wednesday, and in Orthodox Church – Forgiveness Sunday. Orthodox Pascha services are also longer, and the Easter liturgy starts on Saturday evening and lasts until Sunday morning dawn. One of the main differences is also symbolism – Orthodox Churches do not associate bunnies with Easter, as it is in most western Churches. The same applies to Easter games, such as egg hunting. In Russia, for example, the typical game is cracking eggs, and the eggs are usually painted red which is the symbol of Jesus Christ’s blood.

So which countries actually celebrate Orthodox Easter?
Orthodox Churches divide into other Christian communities, for example Greek Orthodox Church or Russian Orthodox Church, which does not mean that their members only live in Greece or Russia. Other countries that celebrate Orthodox Easter are Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Lebanon, Republic of Macedonia or Ukraine, but the members of their communities also live in the United States and other areas of the world. Different countries observe the holiday with their own customs and symbols. For example, meals that are typical for Lebanon are chicken or turkey with rice, while in Greece it is a roasted lamb.

In Russia, the main Easter Service is held in Moscow. The Mass starts at midnight and lasts for hours, while there are no bench rows in Orthodox Churches. Nevertheless, the church is full of people singing and holding candles, which creates a very special atmosphere. In the morning the priests tell the believers to forgive each other. Then they start to exclaim: Christ is risen! And the people answer He is truly risen! On Easter morning families in Russia have a traditional breakfast.

There are, however, some Americans that are still members of the Russian Orthodox Christian community. Many of them lay Easter eggs and bread on their dead relatives’ graves, which is supposed to show the dead that the Christ has risen. Even though Orthodox Easter Monday is not a public holiday in the United States, the members of Orthodox churches still hold on to their traditions and symbolism on that day.

Did you know?

Because of the astrological differences between the two (Julian and Gregorian) calendars, after 2700 the dates of Orthodox and Catholic Easter will never coincide again. This is because of the fact that the difference in counting the days of the year will become too wide.

Other years

Day of the weekDateName of holiday
SundayApr 24th, 2022Orthodox Easter 2022
SundayApr 16th, 2023Orthodox Easter 2023
SundayApr 20th, 2025Orthodox Easter 2025
SundayApr 12th, 2026Orthodox Easter 2026
SundayMay 2nd, 2027Orthodox Easter 2027
SundayApr 16th, 2028Orthodox Easter 2028
SundayApr 8th, 2029Orthodox Easter 2029

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