Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter in May

Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 11:46:51-04

Easter Sunday is two weeks away, but some Christians will wait until May 1 to celebrate the holiday.

Orthodox Christians will start their Lenten season on Monday, what is known as Clean Monday, rather than Ash Wednesday.

To understand the reason behind having two Easters in the Christian world, it starts in the early middle ages.

That is when all Christians used the same method to determine the date of Easter.

“Using the Judaic calendar, they said alright, we need to wait for the vernal equinox, which for many on the new calendar is March 21," said Father Nicholas Papedo at St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Church. "And then they would wait for the full moon following that, and then the Sunday following that. And it worked very well for the early part of the church. Everyone celebrated the same time."

In 1054, the Catholic and Orthodox churches split from each other but still observed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that the earth is not exact for 365 days, hence throwing in a leap year every four years.

Over many centuries, the time strayed from the actual change of seasons so in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII brought the important date of March 21 back into alignment.

“But the Orthodox stayed on the older calendar," said Papedo. 

In today’s Gregorian, or Western calendar, after 1600 years displays a difference of 13 days.
There are some ritual differences between the Orthodox and Catholic mass, but Father Nicholas says there are more similarities.

"We Orthodox are really the second largest Christian denomination in the world. If you would include Russian Orthodox, and Serbian and the Middle Eastern, Greek, etc. we're all the same faith. We all just have different cultural backgrounds and histories that brings us together."

The hierarchs in Rome and patriarchs in Constantinople will meet this year in an effort to come up with an agreement to celebrate Easter together.


Jane Monreal can be reached at

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