No, the other third day

The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates Easter this year, not today, but on the first of May. This is partly due to the fact that the Orthodox rite is still derived from the Julian calendar, which has been getting farther and farther out of sync with the Gregorian calendar for the last four centuries and odd. Will this situation ever change? Well, it might:

The heads of the Christian churches are close to sealing a deal to fix the date of Easter, the Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed, ending more than a thousand years of confusion and debate.

The Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury Most Reverend Justin Welby said the agreed date would be either the second or third Sunday of April.

He expected to make the change within 5-10 years, though he admitted that churches have been trying to agree on a date without success since the tenth century.

Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis, the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (head of the Greek Orthodox church) are all working towards a common date, he said.

This does not necessarily portend a reunification of the separate bodies of Christianity, but it still seems like a promising development.

(Via @BethAnnesBest.)


  1. McGehee »

    27 March 2016 · 9:23 am

    I can see something like this ticking off a lot of traditionalists who associate the lunar aspect of determining the date of Easter with the event’s association with Jewish Passover, which is defined by a lunar calendar.

    Personally, I like the idea that everything from Shrove Tuesday on to Pentecost and whatever other post-Resurrection observances there are, pivot around a lunar-defined Last Supper. Apparently it doesn’t necessarily match Passover as celebrated in modern times, but it gives the whole thing something of a genealogy worth preserving.

    To me detaching Easter from a lunar schedule would be like changing the observance of Washington’s Birthday and letting people call it “Presidents’ Day.”

  2. Brett »

    27 March 2016 · 11:52 am

    I’ll echo McGehee. Picking a day for convenience’ sake kind of blurs the message behind this particular observance.

  3. fillyjonk »

    27 March 2016 · 1:54 pm

    I similarly agree. So much has changed in recent years, why do we need to change this too? We’ve observed it this way since somewhere in the early 100s ADs….

    I’m just old enough (or grew up in a state just cross-grained enough) to remember when “Lincoln’s Birthday” and “Washington’s Birthday” were actually distinct holidays and were observed on their correct days (Feb. 12 and Feb. 22, respectively….though there’s the Julian/Georgian issue with Washington, IIRC)

  4. ETat »

    27 March 2016 · 4:50 pm

    I bet Russian Orthodox Churches (there are more than one) will differ.

  5. CGHill »

    27 March 2016 · 5:10 pm

    True about Washington (or, as Bush 43 called him, “George W”); he originally celebrated his birthday on the 11th of February, and when the colonies, following England’s directive, switched over to Gregorian, he duly made the change.

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