holiday celebrations | days & dates | fun & wacky daily holidays | holiday travel | holiday blog | holiday greeting cards | holiday recipes | email

The Great Easter Date Debate

Easter is the commemoration of Jesus' resurrection, universally celebrated by Christians around the world. Although how and even when Easter is celebrated varies greatly.

Both Western Churches (Roman Catholic and Protestant) and Eastern Churches (Greek and Russian Orthodox) celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

There are as many as five weeks between the two Easter celebrations. In the Western Church, Easter falls between late March and late April; in the Orthodox Church, it is between early April and early May.

In the 16th century, the Roman Church abandoned the Julian Calendar in favor of the Gregorian calendar. As a result, Catholic (and eventually Protestant) churches need to convert the originally Julian-based date of Easter into a Gregorian date.

Even still, it would stand to reason that the date would be the same for the two Churches, since both are based on the same Julian calendar-at least originally.

However, the two Churches also use a different system for calculating the date of the vernal equinox.

The Western Church decided to set a fixed date-March 21-for the vernal equinox and then define the full moon using ecclesiastical calculations.

The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, set the date for Easter based on the astronomical definitions of the full moon and the equinox, as they are observed along the meridian of Jerusalem.

While the Easter date debate is the most commonly cited difference between Eastern and Western Christianity, there are many other differences, as well. From the timing and content of the Easter Mass to traditional foods served at Easter, the two Churches bring their own unique take on celebrating Easter. For more on how Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox celebrate Easter, check out these articles:

Greek Orthodox Easter Customs
Russian Orthodox Easter Customs

Related Articles:
When is Easter?
The Story of Easter
Christianity and The Origins of Easter

Add Comment
Christine from Canada
18:00 04/24/2011
Hi, I am writing to finally maybe get things straight with the easter bunny. My confusion is this some people put things out for there kids on saturday night and hide eggs. I was raised with the Easter bunny coming on Easter Sunday morning not Saturday. So before turkeys in the oven the kids are looking for there baskets for there baskets
Scotty Adams from Virginia, US
14:33 04/14/2011
Why even change the day that Easter is celebrated on? I think that it should still be celebrated on the second Sunday of April like I alway remember it been celebrated on ever since I was a little boy.
dragonslayer1 from Utah, US
13:14 12/08/2010
Easter and Christmas are pagan holidays the early church took to make christianity more palapble. Jesus was Jewish and was Killed on Passover to fufill scripture. He is First Fruits/ Passover Lamb/ and unleaven/ Pentecost was fufilled in upper room when Holy Spirit was poured out. the last three need fufilled. Jesus was Jewish, celebrate the feasts as He did and you will be fine
rammy from Pennsylvania, US
13:23 04/11/2010
cory from Arkansas, US
15:30 04/06/2010
commets r stupid just like all of u
To Tom Is Stupid from Arizona, US
20:16 04/02/2010
Obviously by your message, you do not understand history or religion. Christmas is not a fixed date. The real “Christmas” happened around the summertime. If you read the Bible, you would know that. The Catholic Church picked Dec 25th in order to convert people. So it is reasonable for him to ask that it be placed on a set day because Christmas was done the same way. However, religion uses the moon cycle because Easter originated from the Pagan religion that celebrated nature, spring, and rebirth. The Catholic Church took that calendar because they believed it would be fitting to use Easter in order to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Goodness gracious people. Read a book instead of spouting of nonsense.
damien belcher from Indiana, US
10:27 03/31/2010
Hiewan from Ethiopia
22:20 03/27/2010
AS i know, there are many beliefes in one god's they we celebret Easter...Christianity, there are many many other differences, as well. From the timing countries and content of the Easter Mass to traditional foods served at Easter, the two Churches bring their own unique take on celebrating Easter. For Example, we have totalliy different than others, but we smilir to Russian and Greak...we all Orthodox...and w believe in the same Babile....but the differnce between us is, we fast differently...w fast more than them...Christian churches in the East which were closer to the birthplace of the new religion and in which old traditions were strong, observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.
Francisco da Brooklyn from New York, US
21:54 03/03/2010
To Eileen: I think that actually the post here is not quite right--Easter Sunday occurs after the first Thursday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Thursday must intervene--to allow for commemoration of Jesus' Passover feast, otherwise called the Last Supper, or for Catholics, the Feast of the Lord's Supper. Sometimes the full moon occurs on that Thursday; if this happens, then typically Jews and Christians will be celebrating their Passovers, but, this is not always the case. And to Tom, who is not necessarily stupid, but certainly not patient with tradition: Easter is a movable feast because the Passover of the Jews is reckoned the same way--the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The Last Supper is a Passover feast. The Jews will celebrate their Passover on the full moon no matter what day of the week it occurs; Christians wait for Thursday, because Sunday is the commemoration of the Lord's Resurrection--which is the essence of the Christian take on passover.
Tom is stupid from United States
17:21 03/03/2010
You do not understand easter obviously... Christmas was a DATE... it happened on a DATE.... you are an idiot... Easter is celebrated in accordance to the moon cycle.. that is the point of it... look it up re re

Easter Home | Letter 2 Easter Bunny | Did You Know Easter? | When is Easter? | Story of Easter
Easter/ Christianity | Lenten Season | Palm Sunday | Good Friday | Easter in Holy Land
Why Different Dates? | Greek Easter | Russian Easter | Easter Lily | Why Easter Eggs?
Easter Bunny & Eggs | The Easter Bunny | Carrot Patch | Easter Egg Games | Decorating Eggs+
Easter Egg Hunt | Make Easter Basket | Peeps & Easter | Easter Blog | Easter Crafts
Easter Coloring Pics | Easter Kids Page | Easter Recipes | eCards | Holiday Tweets
Newsletter/Text Msg | Advertise With Us | Link to Us | Contact Us | Site Map | Easter Home

All images, animation, text, video, java, javascript, audio, html
© Copyright © 1995-2015, Holidays on the Net
Reproduction or other use without written consent is illegal

Visit our other holiday celebrations

Sign up for Free Holiday Email Newsletters and Text Messages
Email Address:
We'll keep you informed of future Holidays on the Net Celebrations