This year the Western Church Holy Week began March 28 with Palm Sunday and concluded with Easter, the most important feast in the Christian calendar, on Sunday, April 4.
The Orthodox Church, however, will celebrate the beginning of Holy Week on Sunday, April 25, and Easter or Pascha one-week later, on May 2.
Both Eastern and Western Christianity celebrate Easter, which is a movable feast as opposed to having a fixed date like Christmas, on different dates.
The Rev. George Kevorkian, pastor of St Ignatius Orthodox Church in the Village of Florida explained that based on the calculations which set the dates for these celebrations, the Orthodox Pascha can fall on the same day, one week later, or a month later, as is the case this year. Although the details of the calculations are somewhat complicated, the basic differences occur because of the use of two different calendars.
The Eastern Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar, which was established by Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC. The Western churches use the newer Gregorian calendar which was established by Pope Gregory XIII in the year 1582.
The Eastern Orthodox Churches also prefer to use the name “Pascha” instead of “Easter”. “Pascha,” explained Fr. Kevorkian, “is the Greek work for Passover, and there is a sense in which the Resurrection of Jesus Christ represents a passover for Christians.
We emphasize that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has allowed us to ‘pass over’ from an old life of sin and condemnation to a new life of holiness and salvation.”
St. Ignatius Church is open for in-person worship according to the current policies established by the State of New York, and it will also live stream all of the services on its YouTube channel.
You can find a link to that YouTube channel at the top of the church Website at stignatiusflorida.org along with the full schedule of services.
“Our services,” said Fr. Kevorkian, “are conducted in English, and all are welcome to come and pray with us. The spirit of our church is that there are no strangers, only friends that we have not yet met.”