Happy Easter! Again?

By Andreana Holowatyj



April 8th, 2012.
April 15th, 2012.

Question: What do the above dates have in common (besides that they are
both Sundays, dates in the month of April, and exactly 7 days apart)?
Answer: A holiday. There are both days that people around the world
celebrate Easter.

Some may find this consideration astounding. Two Easters? Should it only
happen once a year?
Well that is a valid question, but it all depends upon which religious
calendar followed.

There are different connotations that are associated with Easter. Most
children view the holiday as the day for competitive egg hunts around the
yard, the Easter bunny carefully hiding their basket, and a day where
family comes together. Of course that is the Hallmark version of Easter,
but nevertheless rampantly is presented on store shelves with bunny ears
and egg dyeing kits, in malls where the Easter bunny arrives early for
pictures, or any of the other ways often observed.

Of course Easter is of religious significance; the celebration that Christ
resurrected from the dead. For these varying denominations, in this case
the Catholic and Orthodox church, there are different traditions and
symbolic events that associate with the holiday. In the Catholic church,
the Stations of the Cross is observed; the Orthodox Church does not follow
that event. Palm Sunday is also celebrated differently. In the Catholic
church palm fronds are distributed and many spend time weaving it into a
cross. In various Orthodox churches, pussywillow branches are revered as
the palm that is blessed. The Catholic church does hold ceremonies to bless
Easter baskets; in various countries with the Orthodox denomination, there
are often traditional foods baked, decorated and placed into baskets to
have food blessed that will be eaten on the Easter holiday. For example, in
the Ukrainian Orthodox church, one of the items blessed is a special bread
called a “paska”. It is a sweet bread that families often bake together and
is always associated with the Easter holiday. Furthermore, the tradition of
dyeing Easter eggs is quite symbolic and special. Colored dyes have
meanings, each symbol drawn is of significance, and there is particular
order for the colors in which an egg is dyed. To dye the eggs wax is melted
and carefully drawn onto the egg shell. The finished products are called
“pysanky”. Of course each culture and Eastern European country celebrates
Orthodox Easter a bit differently with regard to their traditions and
special beliefs.

So besides the religious history dating back to 1054 A.D., there are
various distinguishments to note between the Christian denominations. For
one, Catholic priests are not permitted to wed; in the Orthodox church,
priests are permitted to marry before they become ordained. With regard to
tradition in the Church, if one ever walked into a Catholic church it is
likely to observe many statues and figures in the house of prayer. In an
Orthodox church, there are no statues, it is icons that are the significant
figures. Furthermore, previously Catholic mass was held in Latin, and the
Orthodox religions never took on that tradition. Instead in the Orthodox
church, mass in held in native tongue. Thus, for Ukrainian Orthodox church,
the language is undoubtedly Ukrainian. Likewise for Greek, Bulgarian, etc.

Regardless of the language, church decoration, or even how the separation
between these denominations began, traditions carry on. For next year,
Catholics will celebrate Easter on March 31, and five weeks thereafter will
come the Orthodox Easter celebration on May 5, 2013.