When do Orthodox, Catholics and Jews celebrate Easter: all the dates

Yulia LoseynkoLife
Easter traditions differ among Orthodox, Catholics and Jews

Easter is a major spring holiday that now has a clear religious meaning, although it dates back to ancient times. From the very beginning, it commemorated the spring rebirth of nature, and later acquired other religious contexts. This holiday is celebrated most lavishly by Christians - Orthodox and Catholics, as well as Jews.

In all three denominations, Easter or Passover is a transitional holiday - its date changes every year. OBOZREVATEL tells you when Orthodox, Catholics and Jews celebrate the main religious holiday of spring this year. And also about the traditions associated with it.

Orthodox Easter

Traditionally, it is celebrated the latest. This year, Orthodox Easter falls on April 16. The holiday is preceded by Lent, which lasts seven weeks and symbolises Christ's 40-day asceticism in the desert before his crucifixion and resurrection.

Lent is the strictest for Orthodox Christians. During it, it is forbidden to eat food of animal origin - meat, milk and dairy products, fish, animal fats are prohibited. The rest of the food should be simple and cheap, and the believer should pay as little attention as possible to what he or she eats.

On certain days, such as the first day of Lent, only water is allowed. A little beer or wine is allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays. Sweets and all kinds of delicacies, even lean ones, should be avoided. For monks, there are also prescriptions not to eat hot or boiled food on certain days, to limit themselves in the consumption of vegetable oil - lay people can follow these rules at their discretion. Fasting should not be harmful to health, but should lead to the purification of the soul. That is why you should limit yourself to fun and entertainment.

The period of Lent ends with the Holy Week. These are seven days that commemorate the events of Christ's stay in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. Each day has its own significance and traditions.

On the eve of Holy Week, Palm Sunday, or the Lord's Entry into Jerusalem, is celebrated. This is one of the 12 greatest Christian holidays, commemorating the arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, where he will complete his earthly life. For now, people welcome him as king and saviour. On this day, willow branches are blessed and people thank God for his voluntary sacrifice to save humanity.

Holy Monday is dedicated to the memory of the Old Testament patriarch Joseph, who was sold by his brothers to Egypt. All major household chores should be completed by this day.

On Tuesday, people remember how Jesus taught people in the temple of Jerusalem. It is also customary to prepare clothes for the celebration and get rid of junk.

Holy Wednesday is the day on which Christ is condemned to death. The council of the chief priests who sentenced him to death is remembered, as well as the decision of the apostle Judas to betray his master. On this day, preparations for baking Easter cakes begin: dough is kneaded, and Easter eggs are prepared.

On Holy Thursday, the church commemorates the institution of the sacrament of communion. This day is popularly known as Maundy Thursday, which means that believers have to finish cleaning their homes for the holiday on Thursday.

Holy Friday is the saddest day of the Christian calendar, because it was on Friday that the Romans executed Christ. Believers are advised to exercise maximum restraint in food and behaviour. It is also allowed to bake Easter cakes on this day.

Easter Saturday is the beginning of preparations for the celebration of Easter. Believers gather baskets for church, and Easter services begin in the evening.

The celebration of Easter begins at night, when churches proclaim the resurrection of Christ. At this time, believers bless Easter cakes, Easter eggs and other foods. Then the family returns home and shares the blessed food after the fast, honouring the Saviour's victory over death. Children and adults bang Easter eggs, treat each other to their Easter cakes and have a lot of fun.

Catholic Easter

Catholics celebrate Easter in 2023 on April 9. The Great Feast is preceded by a 45-day fast, although the restrictions are much more lenient than those of the Orthodox. Food bans apply only to meat products. During this period, it is much more important to refrain from anything that could tarnish the soul - bad thoughts and words, evil deeds.

The symbols of Catholic Easter also vary. For example, one of the main images of the holiday is a rabbit. It is believed that it is he who hides chocolate eggs in the garden the night before the holiday. In the morning, children go looking for them. Catholics decorate their homes richly for Easter, and they start the festive meal with eggs, then move on to Easter cake and only eat meat at the end.

Jewish Passover

According to Christian tradition, it was during the celebration of Passover that Christ arrived in Jerusalem. For Jews, this holiday has a completely different meaning, commemorating the liberation of the Jews from 400 years of Egyptian slavery and is celebrated for a week starting on the 14th day of the spring month of Nisan. This year, Passover will be celebrated from the evening of April 5 to the night of April 13.

The main character of the Jewish celebrations is the prophet Moses, who, by the will of God, led the Jews out of Egypt. In particular, he performed a miracle when he made the waters of the Red Sea part so that people could leave Egypt, even though they were being chased by Pharaoh's army, which had changed its mind about letting the Jews go. The Jews were able to walk across the dry bottom, while the Egyptians perished in the water that covered them.

On the 15th day of the month of Nisan, Jews have a festive meal called the Seder. It brings together all relatives and friends, who read prayers, recall the history of their people and eat unleavened bread - matzah. Any leavened dishes are forbidden during Passover.

Each of the dishes that must be served at the Seder has a symbolic meaning:

Matzah is the bread of poverty, it is also the bread of freedom, the food of Jews in Egyptian slavery. It symbolises the fact that people had to pack so quickly to leave Egypt that they didn't even have time to ferment the dough for ordinary bread.

Zroa is a piece of meat with a bone inside. A reminder of the Passover sacrifice.

Beitza is a hard-boiled egg. Another dish is a symbol of sacrifice. It is interesting that Sephardim customarily dye eggs for the Seder.

Maror is a bitter herb whose consumption is supposed to remind Jews of the bitterness of slavery.

Haroset is a sweet mixture of grated fruit and nuts that symbolises the clay used by enslaved Jews to make bricks for construction.

Karpas - any greenery, "grass growing underfoot", symbolising the disenfranchisement of slavery.

Wine - 4 glasses for each participant in the meal, according to the number of promises made by God.

Salted water is a symbol of the tears of Egyptian slaves.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL told if the Ukrainians will have an extra day off on Easter in 2023.

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