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Easter: Fixed and Moveable Christian Feasts

Posted by addisethiopia on March 31, 2013

I remember some years ago, during a flight from Amsterdam to England, two ladies sitting next to me were talking about “how wonderful it would be if there was some snow on Christmas day”, and I was jokingly telling them as the plane started ascending into the clouds, “yes! we do have a white Christmas, can’t you see the beautiful clouds below the plane?” It was around 15° Celsius! People in Europe permanently wish for a white Christmas, but, they don’t get it. Lately, snow during Christmas has become a very rare phenomena. This season, we have no white Christmas, instead white Easter, no Easter Bunny, but Easter Bear.

The Ethiopian calendar (and other Orthodox Churches) differs from that of Europe and the countries that Europeans influenced through colonization or occupation and so on

While the Catholic and Protestant world celebrates Easter this weekend, almost all Orthodox Churches continue to celebrate Easter/Pascha/Fasika according to the Julian Calendar

The Old Calendarists and the Orthodox Churches of Jerusalem, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Russia, Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine continue to use the Julian Calendar.

The Gregorian calendar is the calendar that is used nearly everywhere in the world. A modification of the Julian calendar, it was first proposed by the Calabrian doctor Aloysius Lilius, and was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, for whom it was named, on 24 February 1582 via the papal bull Inter gravissimas. Its years are numbered per the perceived birth year of Jesus Christ, which is labeled the “anno Domini” era. This era was created in the 6th century by Roman monk Dionysius Exiguus.

The motivation of the Catholic Church in adjusting the calendar was to have Easter celebrated at the time that they thought had been agreed to at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Although a canon of the council implies that all churches used the same Easter, they did not.

The dates “5 October 1582” to “14 October 1582” (inclusive) are still valid in virtually all countries because even most Roman Catholic countries did not adopt the new calendar on the date specified by the bull, but months or even years later (the last in 1587)

Both Eastern and Western Christianity use the same calculation. However, they use different calendars! Western Christianity uses the Gregorian Calendar (circa 1582). All of Eastern Christianity continues to use the older Julian Calendar for the determination of the paschal date even though some Orthodox jurisdictions use the newer calendar for the celebration of their fixed feasts (e.g., the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America uses the “new” calendar for fixed feasts, but the “old” calendar for the determination of Pascha).

The difference between March 20/21 on the Julian Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar is around 13 days.

In essence, Orthodox Easter (Pascha) will always occur on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox after Passover. This can lead to a divergence of celebration that may see both East and West celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection on the same date, to as many as five weeks difference, like this year.

During the Middle Ages 1 January was given the name New Year’s Day (or an equivalent name) in all Western European countries (those with predominantly Catholic populations), even while most of those countries began their numbered year on 25 December (the Nativity of Jesus), then 25 March (the Incarnation of Jesus), and even Easter, as in France.

This name was the result of always displaying the months of the medieval calendar from January to December (in twelve columns containing 28 to 31 days each), just like the Romans did. Furthermore, all Western European countries (except for a few Italian states) shifted the first day of their numbered year to 1 January while they were still using the Julian calendar, before they adopted the Gregorian calendar, many during the sixteenth century.

Eastern European countries (most of them with populations showing allegiance to the Orthodox Church) began their numbered year on 1 September (since about 988) just like in the Ethiopian calendar that begins New Year on Meskerem/September 1/11(12)

In 2014, the moon will be “ecumenical”. Therefore, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will celebrate Easter together on April 20th.

Concerning Easter 2015 and following, a decree will be submitted by the AOCTS to the Holy See for approval. It should establish the final adoption of the Julian calendar for the celebration of Easter, by all the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land, “resulting in the adapting of the liturgical calendar for the beginning of Lent and the Feast of Pentecost.” This is what we read in the Directives of the AOCTS, which states, “This decision will be accepted, respected and implemented by all Catholics of Eastern and Latin rites, as well as by all the foreigners living in our diocese.

Now, some curios stuff:

English Month

Ethiopic Month

Ethiopic Meaning

English Meaning

September

Meskerem

ማስታወሻ

Remembrance

October

Teqemt

ጥቅም

Benefit/Usefulness/Value

November

Hidar

ማደሪያ

Habitation/Lodging Time

December

Tahisas

መፈለጊያ

Searching/Seeking/Needing Time

January

Tir

መሰብሰቢያ

Gathering/Collecting Time

February

Yekatit

ጐተራ

Granary/Crib/Storehouse

March

Megabit

ግብዣ

Invitation/Reception/Feast

April

Miazia

መዓዛ ሺት

Fragrance/Odor/Aroma

May

Ginbot

ግንብ

Stone Wall/Tower/Castle

June

Sene

ያማረ

Beautiful/Handsome/Pleasant

July

Hamle

ልምላሜ

Fertility/Exuberant Vegetation

August

Nehassie

ሥራ

Work/Building/Performance

A lot of languages, including English, use month names based on Latin. Their meaning is listed below. However, some languages (Czech and Polish, for example) use quite different

names. Month

Latin

Origin

January

Januarius

Named after the god Janus.

February

Februarius

Named after Februa, the purification festival.

March

Martius

Named after the god Mars.

April

Aprilis

Named either after the goddess Aphrodite or the Latin word aperire, to open.

May

Maius

Probably named after the goddess Maia.

June

Junius

Probably named after the goddess Juno.

July

Julius

Named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.E. Prior to that time its name was Quintilis from the word quintus, fifth, because it was the 5th month in the old Roman calendar.

August

Augustus

Named after emperor Augustus in 8 B.C.E. Prior to that time the name was Sextilis from the word sextus, sixth, because it was the 6th month in the old Roman calendar.

September

September

From the word septem, seven, because it was the 7th month in the old Roman calendar.

October

October

From the word octo, eight, because it was the 8th month in the old Roman calendar.

November

November

From the word novem, nine, because it was the 9th month in the old Roman calendar.

December

December

From the word decem, ten, because it was the 10th month in the old Roman calendar.

Read it in PDF

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