Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
WHY TWO EASTERS?
HOLY PASCHA (EASTER) this year for Orthodox Christians is to be celebrated on May 5th, five weeks later than the Western (Roman Catholic and Protestant churches') Easter on March 31st. Naturally, the question asked by many people is "why are the two Easter celebrations so far apart?"
The date of Pascha was determined by the First Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D. held in the ancient city of Nicea. It was the Council with 318 holy Bishops, representing all Christendom, which assembled to discuss some of the serious issues facing the early Christian Church.
The Ecumenical Council of Nicea declared that the date of the Christian Pascha (Christian Passover)-Holy Pascha (Easter) should be determined as follows:
The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ is to be celebrated on the Lord's Day (Sunday).
Pascha must be celebrated on the Lord's Day following the first full moon of the vernal equinox.
If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Pascha is then the following Sunday.
The Resurrection must be always celebrated after the Hebrew Passover. This is to insure the proper historical sequence of events as recorded in Holy Scripture, and to make a thorough distinction between the two Passovers--Hebrew and Christian.
The Holy Orthodox Church has rigidly adhered to the decision of the First Ecumenical Council and to these regulations since the year 325 A.D. Decisions of Ecumenical Councils cannot be violated by any individual church or person. It has, however, only been since the 16th century that the Western Christian confessions have broke away from the authentic Christian Tradition and have celebrated Pascha on days differing from the original Orthodox Christian practice.
In summarizing the difference in celebrating Pascha between the Orthodox Church and the Western churches, we reiterate the following points:
The difference between the Holy Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions calculating Pascha is that the Orthodox Church continues to use the Julian calendar in making its calculations and the Western confessions use the Gregorian calendar (the calendar of Pope Gregory the Great). This calendar is 14 days (beginning in 2001) ahead of the Julian calendar.
The Jewish calculations in determining their Hebrew Passover have changed since 325 A.D. In 360 A.D. the Jewish adopted a new calendar which affected the calculation of the date of Passover and the date of the Spring Equinox.
The stipulation of the First Ecumenical Council that Pascha cannot be celebrated before or concurrently with the Jewish Passover has been dropped by the Western confessions at the time of the adoption of the Gregorian in 1582 A.D.
So that is why the Western Christians (Latin and Protestant) celebrate Pascha (Easter) this year on March 31st and the Orthodox Christians on May 5th.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God