A Comparative Celebration of Eastern and Western Easter Traditions

On April 1st of this year, approximately 1.2 billion people celebrated Easter in the Catholic Church. Seven days later, approximately 225 – 300 million people celebrated Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The date of Easter differs because of the observance of two different calendars: the Gregorian in the West and the Julian in the East.  I was raised in a Catholic household, but much of my family kept their Eastern Slavic traditions, which sparked my curiosity to celebrate Easter in an Eastern and a Western church this year.  The two churches split in 1054 due to several theological disagreements, including the use of the word filioque in the Creed. The Eastern church did not support the change which articulated the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son.  Additionally, the Eastern church resented the Western insistence on clerical celibacy and use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist.  By celebrating Easter in both of these traditions, I was able to experience firsthand these differing traditions.  Each paschal celebration exhibited the legacy of the theologies behind the 1054 schism, into the twenty-first century. Continue reading