Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eastern Easter Date

Why Does Eastern Orthodoxy (and Eastern Catholicism) Celebrate Easter on Different Days from Latin Rite Catholics?

Well, there are a couple answers.  First of all, it's not always on a different Sunday!  In 2010 and 2011, for example, Eastern and Western Christians celebrated Easter on the same weekend.  This happens with relative frequency too (see chart below).  But why the differences?

Well one difference is that the Eastern Rite Catholics and Orthodoxy use the Julian Calendar while Latin Rite Catholics (and Protestantism too) uses the Gregorian Calendar.

Another difference is the Gregorian calendar sets the Spring Equinox on March 21st, and Latins celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.  Eastern tradition, while using a similar formula adds that Easter can never fall on or before the Jewish Passover.  For this reason Eastern Easter can be as many as five weeks after the Latin/Western Easter celebration.

Some believe the reason for the difference is related to anti-semitism in Orthodoxy, especially in the early years.  Actually, both East and West celebrated Easter on the same day from 325ad to 1582ad when the Latin Church fully adopted the Gregorian Calendar and Orthodoxy remained with the Julian Calendar.  So while there was, no doubt, some anti-Jewish sentiments going around in the Early Church, neither side was immune to this.

Easter 2010 to 2020

Year 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Catholic 4/4 24/4 8/4 31/3 20/4 5/4 27/3 16/4 1/4 21/4 12/4
Orthodox 4/4 24/4 15/4 5/5 20/4 12/4 1/5 16/4 8/4 28/4 19/4


  1. ...the eastern-rite orthodox were anti-semitic and the latin-rite catholics weren't? I attended an eastern-rite grammar school and a latin-rite highschool and it was in highschool that I was taught it was the jews that killed Jesus Christ...

  2. Actually, what I said was that SOME believe the reason for the difference is related to antisemitism Orthodoxy, but I went on to say: BOTH East and West celebrated Easter on the SAME DAY from 325ad to 1582ad, and I added that "neither side was immune to this."

    Secondly, it is a fact that it was the Jews who killed Jesus Christ (though it can be argued that we ALL killed Him). Scripture even records the Jews stating, "let His blood be on us and on our children." Matt. 27:25 Stating the Jews killed Christ is an affirmation of the Scripture. But again I assert that there was, indeed, antisemitism going on in both the East and West in the Early Church.

    In JMJ,


Keep in mind while posting:
1) Please respond ON TOPIC to the article at hand.
2) Posts more than 4 weeks old are set to automatically save new comments for moderation - so your comment may not show up immediately if you're responding to an older post.
3) The "Spam Filter" is on - and randomly messages get caught in that filter. I have no control over which messages get caught in the spam filter and those that do must wait for me to mark them as "not spam." A message caught by the spam filter may show up for a moment, making you think it posted, and then disappear. Do not assume I have deleted your comment, it's probably just the spam filter and it will show up.