05 May 2024

Orthodox Easter.

Today, 5 May 2024, is Easter in the Orthodox Church.

Which is admittedly weird. Orthodox churches have the very same rule for figuring out the date of Easter as the rest of Christendom: It’s the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Therefore the Orthodox celebrations of Easter should fall on exactly the same day as Catholic and Protestant and nondenominational churches. Same as they do every other year.

Here’s why they don’t: Orthodox custom insists that Easter has to take place after Passover. It can’t do it before. All the other Christians might do it before—this year, it was nearly a whole month before—but Orthodox Christians point out Jesus died and was raised after going to Jerusalem for Passover, and disconnecting the two holidays is weird and wrong.

And y’know… they have a valid point. I mean, if Easter is the Christian Passover, shouldn’t they happen at the same time, or at least very near the same time?

Most of the reason they don’t, has to do with ancient Christians intentionally trying to disconnect the two holidays. Some of those Christians were most definitely antisemitic. (How you can be antisemitic when our Lord is a Jew still makes no sense to me, but since when have antisemites made sense?) That’s why they chose our formula for determining Easter, instead of scheduling it right after Passover. That way they wouldn’t be dependent on the Hebrew calendar.

But… why be independent of the Hebrew calendar? After all, we’re not independent of the Hebrew scriptures: We still read and revere the Old Testament. We’re not independent of the Law and Prophets; they point us to God’s will for our lives. The Hebrews’ Messiah is our Messiah. You can’t divorce Jesus and Christianity from their historical background without getting weird… and, most of the time, dangerously heretic.

So I’m gonna side with the Orthodox Christians here. I’d still move the holiday back a week, to 28 April; I see no reason at all why Easter can’t take place at the same time as Passover. (Following the usual formula, sometimes it does!) But there shouldn’t be any disconnect at all between Passover and Easter. Jesus is the world’s Passover lamb.

(And for all the other Christians who celebrated Easter back in March: You realize it’s still Easter until Pentecost, right? Oh, you forgot. Well, no problem. Here’s your reminder.)

Happy Easter, folks.