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Why do Orthodox and Catholics celebrate Easter on different dates and how do their traditions differ?

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Why do Orthodox and Catholics celebrate Easter on different dates and how do their traditions differ?

Easter is the biggest holiday in the church calendar of Western and Eastern rite Christians. However, Orthodox and Catholics have different traditions of celebration. Find out more about the main differences and why Easter is celebrated on different dates

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This year, the date of Easter is May 5 for Orthodox and Greek Catholics and March 31 for Roman Catholics. These differences are primarily due to differences in calculation. Although the general principle of calculating the date of the celebration is almost the same (taking into account such indicators as the solar vernal equinox and the lunar calendar), differences persist due to certain calculation nuances and rules.


At the same time, the differences are not only in the date of the celebration, but also in certain traditions. We will tell you more about them later in the article.


How do the traditions of Easter celebration differ between Orthodox and Catholics?


For Orthodox and Catholics, Easter is a family holiday that is usually celebrated with the closest people. But if we talk about the differences in traditions, they begin with Lent. In general, both Orthodox and Catholics observe certain food restrictions before Easter, but the latter are less strict. For example, while Orthodox believers are forbidden to eat eggs, meat, dairy products, and fish, Catholics are only prohibited from eating meat products. At the same time, they observe a strict fast only on certain days: Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.


In addition, the beginning of the Easter celebration also has its own peculiarities. Thus, Christians of the Western rite begin celebrating this date on Good Friday. It is on this day that a special service is held in churches - Easter Vespers. Traditionally, before the service begins, a special Easter candle called Paskhal is lit. All other candles are lit from this candle. 


Instead, Orthodox Christians, including most Ukrainians, celebrate the holiday day after day. Thus, on Easter, it is customary to go to church early in the morning and take various foods and Easter eggs with you to bless them.


At the same time, the main symbol of Easter for Catholics is the Easter bunny, which signifies prosperity and success. The main dish is rabbit, turkey or chicken meat. Instead, the main symbols for Orthodox believers are Easter cakes, Easter eggs, and a willow tree. At the same time, the tradition of baking Easter cakes is not present in all countries where Catholics live. Therefore, the differences in Easter celebrations are not only in religion but also in the regions where believers live.




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How is Easter celebrated in different countries?


The traditions of celebrating Easter in the world are generally quite similar, but some countries have interesting features that are worth mentioning separately. For example:


– in Poland has a very old and unusual tradition of pouring water on the Monday after Easter. It is called "smigus-dingus" and symbolizes health, success, and profit;

– in Germany, it is customary to decorate the so-called Easter tree with painted eggs;

– in Australia, the main symbol of Easter is a rare animal - the billy, and it is customary to celebrate the date in nature;

– in the USA, one of the main traditions is the "egg race", when children compete to see who can roll their Easter egg the farthest;

– in the UK, Easter is more important than Christmas and is treated with special honor. The main feature of the celebration is that children here wake up early in the morning and start looking for Easter eggs hidden around the house;

– in Italy, it is customary to go to the main square to hear the Pope's greetings. Also, instead of Easter cake, they bake a yeast cake with nuts and candied fruit in the shape of a pigeon, called Colombo.



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We remind you! For many Ukrainians, Easter is an extremely important holiday. Its traditions are passed down from generation to generation and are especially revered. Read more about the customs of Ukraine that make the celebration of this date unique in our previous article.


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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