Which Easter Do You Celebrate?

Many millions of Christians will celebrate Easter Sunday on 31st March 2024, whilst millions more will celebrate Easter Sunday on 5th May 2024.  Why is there a difference?  Which Easter do you celebrate?  The date of Easter Sunday varies because different Christian denominations follow different methods to determine it.  The Western Christian Church, including Catholicism, generally observes Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.  Eastern Orthodox churches, however, use the original old Julian calendar for their calculations, often resulting in a later date for Easter compared to the Western tradition.  The desire to maintain a connection with the Jewish Passover also influenced early Christians, leading to variations in practice and traditions.  

Additionally, the new Gregorian calendar reforms in 1582 adjusted the vernal equinox, further separating the Eastern and Western calculations.  Eastern Orthodox churches did not adopt these reforms, contributing to the ongoing divergence in the Easter dates.

Despite these differences, Easter remains a significant and shared celebration among various Christian communities, symbolising the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Easter Sunday will be celebrated by all Christians on the same day next year, on 20th April 2025.  There is talk that the Catholic and Orthodox Church might agree to celebrate Easter on the same day after 2025, either on the second or third Sunday of April annually, as Jesus Christ is only supposed to have had one resurrection.  Discussions are ongoing.

Christianity is the world's largest religion, with an estimated 2.382 billion followers across the globe.  However, the Church is hardly a unified body and there exist several Christian denominations with diverse practices, beliefs and doctrines.  One of the most prominent divisions is between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, also referred to as the Western and Eastern Churches.  Catholic and Orthodox Christians have remained distinct denominations ever since the Great Schism in 1054, with the mutual excommunications by the Catholic Pope of Rome and the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, a pivotal point in church history.