Orthodox and Catholic Easter: A Moveable Feast

Learn about the culture behind Easter!

Orthodox and Catholic Easter: A Moveable Feast

April 05, 2024

Every year, millions of schoolchildren around the United States and the world look forward to Spring Break; a vacation often filled with travel and sunshine, as well as many religious holidays such as Passover, Catholic Easter, and Orthodox Easter. As a daughter of interfaith parents, I celebrate both Catholic and Orthodox Easter. While these holidays may have their own delicious foods, desserts, and traditions, their celebrations share a common purpose and have families travel from far and wide to commemorate this special, religious holiday together.

During Catholic Easter, the Catholic Church marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This occurs on Easter Sunday, which is preceded by Holy Week. Holy Week is the 6th and final week of Lent, which includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. On Easter Sunday, Catholics attend Mass at church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is a symbolic reminder that Jesus has overcome death and sin. The traditions celebrated on this Easter include Easter egg hunts, or Catholics dye eggs as a symbol of new life and rebirth. Catholics often prepare special dishes and breads to share among loved ones, depending on their culture, such as lamb, ham, or traditional easter bread.

On the other hand, Orthodox Easter is celebrated on a different date than Catholic Easter, as it follows the Julian calendar. Worshippers attend the midnight resurrection service, as the church is filled with incense and lit candles to symbolize the light of Christ. This is where the faithful proclaim, “Christ is risen!” responding with “Truly, He is risen!”. This service is followed by a feast with traditional foods, such as lamb, red eggs, and sweet bread. The Orthodox Church has similar traditions to the Catholic Church but with distinctive rituals and customs. One of the unique traditions of Orthodox Easter is the blessing of easter baskets. These easter baskets often include bread, cheese, meat, and eggs, and are brought to the church where they are blessed by the priest on Easter Sunday, symbolizing the renewal of life and the resurrection.

To summarize, Catholic and Orthodox Easter are lively celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While there are differences in the dates and specific customs of each tradition, the message of hope, renewal, and new life is central to Catholic and Orthodox Easter.