While Greek Australians enjoyed the long weekend last week, they weren’t stopping to celebrate Easter.
Greek Orthodox Easter this year has fallen a week later, meaning thousands of Greeks won’t have the option of the Friday and Monday off.
It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of trying to celebrate Orthodox Easter. Having time to visit church, cook and organise Easter Sunday events is much harder when the public holidays aren’t in synch.
Neos Kosmos asked our readers whether they would prefer Greek Easter fell on the same dates as Catholic Easter every year, but surprisingly, more preferred the dates stay as is.
Of the 252 voters, 56 per cent of voters felt things should be left unchanged, while 44 per cent wanted Easter to coincide with the public holidays and Catholic Easter.
Why is Greek Easter on different dates?
There is no easy answer as to why and how Greek Easter dates are worked out.
North Altona parish priest of the Dormition of Our Lady, Reverend George Frangos says he fields requests almost daily for why our dates are different.
He admits that the reason isn’t very easy to explain.
“There is no short answer to that question,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“There’s a number of contributing factors.”
The rules were decided at the first ecumenical council in 325 AD, where the church finally came together as a united front to discuss more permanent Easter date rules.
“What they determined at that ecumenical council was that Easter should be celebrated on the Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox (which is the beginning of spring which is always March 21),” Rev Frangos says.
“If the full moon happens to fall on the Sunday, Pascha is observed on the following Sunday. That’s something similar to what we’ve experienced this year.”
The rules don’t stop there.
“It was also determined that Easter should always be on a Sunday and that Easter should not be celebrated before or with Jewish Passover,” Rev Frangos says.
“Last week being Jewish Passover, that’s also why we’re celebrating a week after.”
So, you can understand why more often than not, Greek Easter falls outside of Catholic Easter.
Easter will coincide again in two years, when Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday is celebrated on April 16, the same for Catholics.
Next year, the dates will be more than a month apart, with Catholic Easter being celebrated on March 27, and Greek Easter on May 1.