Millions prepare for Orthodox Easter celebrations

By staff writers
April 16, 2009

While Protestant, Anglican and Catholic Christians have just finished celebrating the major Easter festival and are looking towards Pentecost, for some the season is still heading towards its Sunday climax.

More than 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide will celebrate Easter (Pascha) 2009 on Sunday 19 April. Huge numbers are expected for the remaining Holy Week services and in preparation for what is known as "the Feast of Feasts", marking the resurrection of Christ.

The Orthodox date for Easter is based on a decree of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in Asia Minor, held in 325 A.D. According to this decree, Easter must be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox, but always after the Hebrew Passover to maintain the Biblical sequence of events of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Orthodox Christian churches have adhered strictly to this formula and have resisted attempts to agree a common date on the Gregorian calendar.

Centuries-old religious services which recall the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are conducted each morning and evening throughout this Holy Week in Orthodox Christian Churches, including Greek, Russian, Romanian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Russian, Albanian, Serbian and Ukrainian.

On Easter Sunday, the Vespers of Agape (divine love) are celebrated with the Gospel being read in several languages to emphasize the universality of Christ’s teaching of love, justice and peace.

in the Western tradition The entire 50 days until Pentecost is the Easter season.

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