Orthodox vs Catholic Easter

This weekend we are celebrating the Orthodox Easter. It is another Holy Celebration that gives us the opportunity to turn within and connect with the Divine Presence.

Every celebration and rituals regardless of the religion or spiritual path give us the opportunity to lift ourselves higher, release and let go of limitations that do not serve us any longer.  the Orthodox Easter is no exception.

First, I  was interested in finding out more about the differences between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. See my findings further below.

The Orthodox Easter

How can you use this celebration for your upliftment and growth?

Known as Pascha, the Greek word for “passover,” Easter in the Orthodox Church celebrates “the eternal Passover from death to life from earth heaven.” Great Lent, the church’s strictest time of fasting, takes place for 40 days, ending eight days before Easter on Lazarus Saturday—when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, according to Eastern orthodoxy. Palm Sunday and Holy Week follow, with continued fasting until Easter. Orthodox Easter always follows the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Raising Lazarus from the dead. I would like to invite you to contemplate on the metaphysical meaning of ‘raising the dead’ or ‘being risen from the dead’. What does it mean to you? How do you see that being applied to your own life? What do you think you can do to ‘raise yourself from dead’?

I am looking forward to your answers! 🙂

What are Orthodox Easter traditions?

Going to church is obviously an important part of the celebrations and important services start from Good Friday.

The most important prayers are in the early hours of Easter Sunday when celebrations begin, church bells ring and fireworks and crackers go off to mark Christ’s resurrection.

After the fasting of Lent, traditions often revolve around food.

In Greece, Orthodox Christians traditionally eat roasted lamb on a barbecue spit and Tsoureki, a sweet Easter bread.

They also break their fast with a traditional soup called Magiritsa, which is made of lamb, rice and dill before the main feasting begins on Sunday.

Serbian Orthodox families traditionally enjoy appetizers of smoked meats and cheeses, boiled eggs and red wine. The Easter meal consists of chicken noodle or lamb and vegetable soup followed by spit-roasted lamb.

In Russia Orthodox Christians break their fast with a traditional Paskha Easter cake.

As in the western Church, eggs are a symbol of Easter and of new life. At Easter, eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross for the redemption of all men.


What do you think about trying some of the traditions? I find that practicing rituals offered by different faith help me stay open and accepting towards others’ ideas, thinking, beliefs or even ideology. What do you think? 

Eastern or Orthodox Church traditions revolve around food and feeding so I will check out and see if I can make a Paskha Easter cake 🙂



Some interesting information

Major Differences in the Orthodox vs. Catholic Churches

Modernly, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches remain separated with key doctrinal differences between them. The primary theological difference is that the Catholic Church believes the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father to Jesus Christ the Son, and the Orthodox Church believes the Holy Spirit proceeds only from God the Father. The second major theological difference is that the Catholic Church believes the Pope has supreme authority over the Christian faith, while the modern Orthodox Church has no doctrinal authority. Aside from these key theological differences, modern religious practices and beliefs vary between the two churches. For example, the Orthodox Church allows for divorce, while the Catholic Church does not.



According to the Bible’s New Testament, Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans around A.D. 30, died on the cross on a Friday and was buried in a tomb outside of Jerusalem. Three days later, on Sunday, Christ rose from the dead, according to Matthew 28: 1–10

Non-Orthodox Christians celebrate the resurrection each year on Easter Sunday, the culmination of the 40-day season of Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Holy Week, which includes Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday, honoring the Last Supper, Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified and Holy Saturday, the time of transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.

Why Orthodox Easter and Easter Are on Different Days

Known as Pascha, the Greek word for “passover,” Easter in the Orthodox Church celebrates “the eternal Passover from death to life from earth heaven.” Great Lent, the church’s strictest time of fasting, takes place for 40 days, ending eight days before Easter on Lazarus Saturday—when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, according to Eastern orthodoxy. Palm Sunday and Holy Week follow, with continued fasting until Easter. Orthodox Easter always follows the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Many historians, citing 8th-century monk and Anglo-Saxon scholar the Venerable Bede in his “The Reckoning of Time,” believe Easter’s etymological name comes from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, who was often portrayed in drawings surrounded by hares and was believed to be worshiped during pagan festivals. Anglo-Saxons also reportedly referred to the month of April as Eostre-monath.

Orthodox Christians, who believe faith is inseparable from the church, follow the Julian calendar when it comes to celebrating Easter Sunday. The Julian calendar was established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C. and is based it on the solar cycle—Earth’s revolutions around the sun.

Orthodox Easter takes place between April 4 and May 8, following the first full moon after Passover. Orthodox Easter always falls after the Jewish celebration of Passover, because, according to the New Testament, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ took place after he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. In 2024, Orthodox Easter occurs on May 5.

Georgian vs Julian Calendar

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar to correct inaccuracies in the Julian Calendar. The new calendar added leap years to correct an 11-minute miscalculation that caused seasons to become out of sync with the calendar, thus pushing Easter away from the spring equinox. Under the Gregorian calendar, churches established Easter to be held on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. In 2024, Easter is celebrated on March 31.

Much of the world came to officially recognize the Gregorian calendar, but Orthodox churches, primarily in Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and others, continue to observe Easter according to the Julian calendar.


To better understand this, one needs to go back to 325, the year in which the first Ecumenical council, was held in Nicaea and convened by Emperor Constantine. It was intended to unify the Eastern Churches and find points of agreement between the different rites. Convergences were found, but each community insisted on its calendar.

“The first thing that the council decided was not to align our celebration with the Jewish Passover,”

“The Jews follow the lunar calendar for their Passover. The idea is not to celebrate it simultaneously,” he added.

This principle is also applied by the Orthodox, with one key nuance: The celebration must always fall after the Jewish Passover, never before it. “In the Gospel, Christ is crucified at Passover and resurrected three days later. So it makes sense,”

The second rule that the Council established 1700 years ago is for all Christians not to celebrate Easter before March 22. That’s where the problem lies for Orthodox Christians this year: March 31, the date on which Catholic Easter falls, is March 18 in the Julian calendar. That means it falls before March 22. Hence, the Orthodox cannot celebrate Easter on that date, unless they break the rule decided at Nicaea (now Iznik, in Turkey).

Father Ibrahim Saad, representative of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Saida, Elias Kfoury, explained that “in this case, we move it for one month, using the following full moon as a basis.”

For 2024, Orthodox Easter is supposed to be set on April 28. So why is it on May 5 instead? Father Saad explained “We moved it because the Jewish Passover is celebrated until April 30,” recalling the first rule set by the Council.

“Several popes have called for Easter to be unified, and more and more people are in favor of that,” he said. To make such a change, many more ecumenical councils will be needed.