Greek Orthodox Easter celebration a week later

Many congregations celebrate Easter this Sunday, but Greek Orthodox church members commemorate the holiday a week later this year.

The difference in date can be traced back to a council formed by Roman Emperor Constantine to construct tables that would compute the date of Easter two thousand years ago, Billie Jacobs said.

Jacobs, a member of St. John's Greek Orthodox Church, said following the tradition encouraged her to convert to the Orthodox religion.

"I was a Roman Catholic until I did extensive studies on religion, and I wanted to go back to the original church," Jacobs said.

The adoption of the Gregorian calendar by the Roman Catholic Church began the separation of the Easter holidays. In 1582, the Roman Catholic pope, Gregory XIII, reconstructed the Julian calendar, put in place by Julius Caesar.

By 1700, most of western Europe had adopted the Gregorian calendar, which included a leap year. Orthodox religions kept the Julian calendar, and they calculated the date of Easter by different lunar tables than those used by the Gregorian calendar.

"That's the beauty of the religion," said Christy Beckerman, local Greek Orthodox member. "The Orthodox church services are the same as they were long ago."

Last year, the holidays were almost a month apart, but two years ago they fell on the same day. This year, Sunday is Easter for the western religions and Palm Sunday for the eastern religion. Although it's a little confusing, Jacobs said it makes it possible for interested people to attend two Easters, one week apart.

"We want to invite everyone to attend our Holy Week services," Jacobs said. "It's a beautiful religion, and it was the first, the 'one true faith.'"

The Greek Orthodox Easter celebration April 23 will include a feast at St. John's Greek Orth--odox Church, 691 Green St.

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