Easter is not only a movable holiday but a multiple one: in most years Western Christian churches and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on different dates. This year, for example, Easter will be celebrated on April 5 by Western churches and April 12 by Orthodox churches. But in 2014, the two celebrations occurred on the same date, April 20.
As a Child, I was raised in a Greek Orthodox family, from both my maternal and paternal side. I just knew I was Christian,till the age of 8, where we’ve been asked at school if we wanted to celebrate the first communion. My parents being moderate Christians, let me and my siblings celebrate this sacred event, believing no differences between Christians, and not wanting us to feel discriminated among our friends. Of course they were criticized by some relatives, who were fanatic orthodox.
We started having “mixed marriages” in the family, and we started celebrating two Easters. As a child, I didn’t complain about having two vacations. And the deeper I got into my spirituality, I kept on enjoying the two Easters, but this time it was for spiritual reasons.
But today the Christian community in the Middle East has shrunk, and it is important that the celebrations be united, The Muslims always ask us how many “Jesuses” do we have, or how many times we kill and raise Jesus!!!
# In Western Christianity, using the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between 22 March and 25 April inclusive, within about seven days after the astronomical full moon. The following day, Easter Monday, is a legal holiday in many countries with predominantly Christian traditions.
# Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar. Because of the 13-day difference between the calendars between 1900 and 2099, 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian Calendar. Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May on the Gregorian calendar (the Julian calendar is no longer used as the civil calendar of the countries where Eastern Christian traditions predominate). Also, because the Julian “full moon” is always several days after the astronomical full moon, the eastern Easter is often later, relative to the visible moon’s phases, than western Easter.
Among the Oriental Orthodox some churches have changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and the date for Easter as for other fixed and moveable feasts is the same as in the Western church.
The controversy over the “proper” date for the Paschal celebration reappeared intermittently over the first centuries. In 314, the Council of Arles agreed that Easter should be celebrated on “uno die et uno tempore per omnem orbem” (on one day and at one time throughout the whole world); however, both sides were reluctant to make the changes necessary, citing ancient custom and tradition. Without the will to enforce the agreement made at Arles, Christians continued to celebrate Easter according to different practices.
A meeting organized by the Council of World Churches (in Aleppo, Syria, March 5–10, 1997) proposed a solution thought to be favorable to both East and West: both methods of calculating the equinox and the paschal full moon would be replaced with the most advanced astronomically accurate calculations available, using the meridian of Jerusalem as the point of measure. Since that meeting, however, no further progress has been made and the problem remains.
The main reason for the unification of the Easter celebration is for members of the same family, village and parish to be able to have one celebration, and one calendar, and to show the unity and enjoy the unity. We want to give a good example of unity to our non-Christian neighbors.
In Lebanon, in many towns and cities, many churches in the same town celebrate one Easter, or they join each other in the processions of palm Sunday or Good Friday.
Al Masih Kam… Hakkan Kam…
watch the video above for enchanting Easter songs from Feyrouz.