It is quite strange to try to explain to people that you are fasting for Great Lent at a time when Easter has already passed. So to avoid looking like a complete idiot, I thought that it would be best to explain why Orthodox Easter falls at a different time as compared to when the rest of the world celebrates Easter.
- Orthodox christians use the Julian calendar which was in use 45 BC and 1582 AD.
- The world uses the Gregorian calendar which actually replaced the Julian calendar.
- After 40 days of Great Lent, the Orthodox christians celebrate Holy week which begins on Palm Sunday.
- Palm Sunday is important because it was on this day when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and was hailed as King.
- Orthodox christians commemorate all the events that led up to his arrest, execution and resurrection. All these event took place after passover.
- Another important factor when calculating Greek Easter is the element of the Spring Equinox. Generally Easter is set on the first full moon after both the Spring Equinox and Passover.
Easter preparations begin on Holy Thursday when the traditional Easter bread, TSOUREKI, is baked and eggs are dyed red. From ancient times the egg has been a symbol of renewal of life, and the message of the red egg is victory over death.
Holy Thursday evening, church services include a symbolic representation of the crucifixion, and the period of morning begins. In many villages and even cities, women will sit in church throughout the night, in traditional mourning.
It is a day of mourning. It is also the only day in the year that the Divine Liturgy is not read. Flags are hung half mast. Devout Orthodox christians will not cook in oil on this day. Women and children take flowers to the church to decorate the EPITAPHIO.
The midnight service of the Resurrection is attended by all. Special candles are made for Easter and are called LABATHA. These candles are only used for one Easter midnight service.