Ref: Easter and the Calendar...

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Posted by T on April 20, 2001 at 11:00:52:

In Reply to: Re: Why did Orthodox separate from Catholics? posted by Tinsel on April 18, 2001 at 14:07:42:

Hi, there!

May I throw in my two cents?

QUOTE And, as Eastern Orthodox people know, we still go by the old calendar in determining when Easter is. . . we actually still determine the date of Easter in the way that the once-unified church had originally decided to determine the date of Easter. . . but the Western Church changed its calendar and its method of determining the date of Easter over the years.UNQUOTE

Both churches still determine Easter very much the way it was defined by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD: The first Sunday after the first full moon after the beginning of spring.
Orthodox in addition to that have a continued to respect Konstantin the Great's wish never to let Christian Easter be celebrated before the Jewish Pessach has taken place. So, an exception is made in such years.

Also there are minor differences in the definition of full moon and new moon. But they only affect the date of Easter every so and so many decades.

So, basically the procedures have remained the same.

As for the change of calendar, I would strongly doubt that the introduction of the new calendar by a Renaissance (and therefore science-inspired) pope was motivated by the desire to break away from orthodox tradition.

Orthodox Church still uses the Julian Calendar (introduced in the 1st Century BC by Julius Cesar) even though in day to day life Greeks in 1923 adopted a form of the Gregorian Calendar, which is called the New Orthodox Calendar. The change of calendars (From Julian to Gregorian, from Julian to New Orthodox) was not inspired by issues of faith but by the shortcomings of the Julian calendar to precisely describe the astronomical year.

In general, calendars in the days of old did not play that great a role (dates were described by seasonal phenomena or reigns); determining the precise day of Easter was about the only event in daily life that required precise calendar calculations.

By 1582, the Julian Calendar had accumulated a delay of ten days compared to the actual astronomical time elapsed and Pope Gregory invited astronomers to find a solution that would pay tribute to the astronomical facts and consequently simplify the process of determining the date of Easter.
The Gregorian Calendar was introduced in late 1582 and the ten day loss of the Julian Calendar was corrected (The day after October 4, 1582 is October 15th, 1582 - no 5th, no 6th a.s.o.).

Consequently, differences between the Greek Orthodox Easter and the Catholic Easter Church are caused by the 13 days the Julian calendar is behind and. If you add another possible 13 days (6 days to the full moon, plus 7 days to Easter), you see why Greek Easter can be on the same day and up to 26 days after but never before Catholic Easter.

Why 0rthodox Church has not moved on to using another calendar, I do not know. Tradition? Neglect of astronomical fact in matters of faith?

A Council was supposed to be organised in Aleppo this year during which the different Christian churches (Incl. Greek Orthodox Church) wanted to discuss a reunifying of Easter Sunday calculation and use of calendars in an attempt to bring Christian Churches closer together. Whether it took or will take place, I don't know.


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