Celebrating Greek Easter adheres to a different calendar

By GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff

Published: 05-01-2021 12:00 PM

Father Constantine Newman of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Concord started the Easter weekend with the Apokathelosis, known as the Decent of the Cross service on Holy and Great Friday, followed by the Service of Lamentations, where parishioners carry the cross around the church.

On Holy and Great Saturday, three services were held including the Vesperal Liturgy of the Vigil of Pascha, then the Pannychis or Preparatory Service at the North State Street church.

At midnight, the Anastasis, Orthros and Liturgy of Pascha or Great and Holy Easter service was held, followed by a celebration feast.

The reason for the different dates for Orthodox Churches is that they calculate Easter according to the Julian calendar, whereas the western churches use the Gregorian calendar. The formula used by both east and west comes from the First Council of Nicaea, held in the year 325 A.D., which called for Easter to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring solstice. The problem is that in the Gregorian calendar, the solstice reflects the actual celestial event, on the Julian calendar it is fixed on March 21. So, for this particular year, Easter for most Christian faiths was celebrated on April 4. Whereas the Orthodox traditions, Easter is celebrated on May 2 and for the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that meant a midnight service on Sunday, according to the Fr. Constantine.

The largest gap between the two Easters comes when the full moon comes after March 21 but before April 7; when that happens, the Orthodox have to go to the next full moon. When that happens, Orthodox Easter falls about a month after western Easter.

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