Orthodox Easter will be celebrated on 16th April 2023, it always falls on the first Sunday after the full moon after the Passover festival. The Orthodox Easter uses the Julian calendar and can fall one to four weeks after Catholic Easter. Orthodox Christians in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East celebrate Easter later than most in the western world.
It is a movable feast observed between April and May and normally falls one to three weeks later (rarely at the same date) than the Easter celebration observed in Western Christianity. The weather is good, neither cold or too hot and it is perfect time for hiking or traveling around. Perhaps it is not the best time of the year for spending a day at the beach but you will experience the wonderful Orthodox Easter customs and religious ceremonies.
The Catholic church is using the new Gregorian calendar to calculate Easter Sunday whilst Orthodox churches are using the old Julian calendar. Because the Julian calendar is thirteen (13) days behind the Gregorian, Orthodox Easter is later than the Catholic one.
In early times the Holy Fathers decreed that Easter was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox – but always after Passover. The Orthodox are stuck with this method of calculating the date of the feast, leading to the fall of the date after the western world easter. However, in some years the date falls on the same date and this will happen again in the year 2025.
Orthodox Easter Observances
During holy week, Eastern Orthodox Christians will attend church services multiple times a day to signify different phases before Christ has risen. The main day’s people attend church include Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
There is a midnight service Saturday where people bring candles to church. At midnight the door opens representing the opening of the tomb. The priest comes out with the candle, which is lit and he says ‘come and receive the light from the unwaning light of Christ who has risen from the dead.
Other traditions throughout the week include dyeing hard-boiled eggs red to represent the blood of Christ. The significance is the egg represents life coming out. Just like Christ was in the tomb, but he came forth that analogy is shown really well with the egg.
Orthodox Christians will play a game of cracking eggs. One person will hold the ‘top’ of the egg and the other the ‘bottom.’ Before tapping the egg, they will say “Christ has risen.” Once cracked, the other person will say “truly he has risen.”
Jewish Passover ends the night of April 23rd and Eastern Orthodox Easter is April 24th. People that celebrate Eastern Orthodox Easter include Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, and more.