History Behind Eastern Orthodox Easter

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Eastern Orthodox Christians follow the ‘Julian’ calendar and celebrate Easter on a different date.

St. George Greek Orthodox Priest, Father Basil Hickman said the formula is the same when deciding Easter.

Easter falls after the first Sunday, after the first full moon of spring.

“[Orthodox Easter] It fits with when Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. He was crucified and rose from the dead around the time of the Jewish Passover, and his rising was the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. The Jewish Passover is the first full moon of spring,” Hickman said.

During holy week, Eastern Orthodox Christians will attend church services multiple times a day to signify different phases before Christ has risen.

The main days people attend church include: Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

There is a midnight service Saturday where people bring candles to church.

“A midnight the door opens representing the opening of the tomb. The priest comes out with the candle, which is lit and he says ‘come and receive the light from the unwaning light of Christ who has risen from the dead,’” Hickman said.

Other traditions throughout the week include dyeing hard-boiled eggs red to represent the blood of Christ.

“The significance is the egg represents life coming out. Just like Christ was in the tomb, but he came forth that analogy is shown really well with the egg,” Hickman said.

Orthodox Christians will play a game of cracking eggs. One person will hold the ‘top’ of the egg and the other the ‘bottom.’ Before tapping the egg, they will say “Christ has risen.” Once cracked, the other person will say “truly he has risen.”

Jewish Passover ends the night of April 27th and Eastern Orthodox Easter is April 28th.

People that celebrate Eastern Orthodox Easter include Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox and more.

It is estimated around 250 million people celebrate Orthodox Easter worldwide.


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