Belief in brief: Orthodox Easter

Friday, March 28, 2008 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 7:38 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 9, 2008

COLUMBIA — Last week, many western Christians observed Easter, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection three days after being crucified. However, for followers of Orthodox Christianity, Easter is still more than a month away, with this year’s celebration falling on April 27. The disparity in dates lies in the different calendars followed by each faith.

Different beliefs, different dates

The Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic Church in the Great Schism of 1054, mostly because Eastern churches disagreed with some attributes of the pope’s authority. The Orthodox church is not headed by a pontiff but rather an organization of self-governing churches that believe “no one but Christ himself is the real head of the Church,” according to Orthodoxy in America.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as many Eastern Catholic churches, follow the Julian calendar established by Julius Caesar.

The Western church uses the Gregorian calendar, which was established in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a reformed version of the earlier calendar. The Gregorian calendar is 13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which, coupled with differing definitions of a full moon and an equinox, account for the date disparity.

Shared traditional roots

Although the date of Easter is a matter of differing faiths, Orthodox and western Christians share many Easter traditions.

One is the practice of painting Easter eggs, which originated in the 13th century out of an earlier Christian tradition in which eggs were forbidden to be eaten during Holy Week. As a symbol of their faith, Christians marked the Holy Week eggs by dying or painting them.

Eastern Orthodox Christians also observe Lent, a 40-day fasting period excluding Sundays that culminates during the week before Easter, or Holy Week.

Sources:, The Religion Newswriters Association, Orthodoxy in America

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ArchpriestGeorge MorelliPhD March 28, 2008 | 8:46 p.m.

This article is written with a Latin (Roman bias) ...the offending sentence:

"The Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic Church in the Great Schism of 1054, mostly because Eastern churches disagreed with some attributes of the pope’s authority."

May I re-write this sentence with an Eastern Church bias:

The Roman Church split from the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Great Schism of 1054, mostly because Rome's increasing claim to church power. This was a disagreement with some attributes of the pope’s increased claim to authority not originally in the Church founded by Christ. [I do not agree with this wording although from our point of view it is correct]

May I suggest an unbiased wording as both Churches are working toward unity:

The Orthodox Church and Roman Church split from each other in the Great Schism of 1054, mostly over both Churches disagreement with increasing papal authority.

FYI my e mail signature is below:

Archpriest George Morelli, Ph.D.
Coordinator,Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Ministry
SELF-RULED Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
2579 Luciernaga St. La Costa, California, 92009-5822

However, more important to this response is: I am the President of the Society of St. John Chrysostom- Western Region .. which is a society endorsed by both the Latin Church (Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI) and the Eastern Church (His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople [as well as my Patriarch: Antioch]. Our aim is to work toward total Church unity -- we already share the same sacraments --- but with no 'recrimination, bias or proselytizing. Please check:, for verification ... Thank you Archpriest Fr. George

(Report Comment)
V. Rev. Fr. Alexander Webster March 30, 2008 | 5:35 p.m.

Echoing the gentle chiding of the author's Roman bias by my fellow priest George, I wish also to note that the most comprehensible difference between the modern Western Christian reckoning of "Easter" and the ancient Orthodox timing of "Pascha" (Greek for "Passover" and the preferred name for the now widespread term derived from an ancient fertility goddess in Mesopotamia) hinges on the date of the Jewish Passover. Maintaining the historical and biblical precedent, Orthodox Pascha always follows the first day of the Passover festival, even as the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ fulfilled, completed, and perfected the Exodus event in ancient Israel on a truly cosmic, metaphysical level.

Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, Ph.D.
US Army Chaplain (Colonel) and
Associate Professorial Lecturer,
University Honors Program,
The George Washington University

(Report Comment)

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