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Orthodox Easter in Canada

Orthodox Christians in Canada celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. The Orthodox Christian date for Easter Sunday, also known as Pascha, is often at a later date than the Easter date observed by many western churches.

Is Orthodox Easter a Public Holiday?

Orthodox Easter is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, April 19, 2020 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Canada.

lamb on grill

Lamb is a popular Easter dish for many Orthodox Christians in Canada.

©iStockphoto.com/Izvorinka Jankovic

What Do People Do?

Orthodox Christians in Canada celebrate Pascha according to the Easter date in the Julian calendar. Pascha is the most important event in the church calendar in the Orthodox Church. Many Orthodox Christians attend church liturgies during the Holy Week that leads up to Easter Sunday. The Easter Sunday church liturgy is joyous as it celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, as told in the Christian bible.

The period before Easter, known as Lent, is also a time of strict fasting. Orthodox Christians in Canada observe this fasting ritual before celebrating Easter Sunday with a feast, where meat and dairy products can be eaten again. Another tradition observed in Orthodox Christian churches is the blessing of food baskets. The baskets are usually filled with bread, cheese, meat, eggs, butter, salt, and other types of food used for Paschal celebrations.

Public Life

The Orthodox Christian date for Easter Sunday is not a federal public holiday in Canada. However, it is held on a Sunday, which is a non-school day and non-working day for many Canadians.

Background

The Orthodox church bases its Easter date on the Julian calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period often occurs later than the Easter period that falls after the time of the March equinox.

The term orthodox, derived from Greek, means “right teaching” or “right worship”, according to the National Defence and the Canadian Forces. The eastern Christian churches’ gradual adoption of the term reflects their view of the correctness of their position in doctrinal differences with the Roman Catholic Church.

There are different types of Orthodox churches across Canada. Greek Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox churches spread in Canada as a result of immigration over the years.  Other eastern Orthodox churches include the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Symbols

The Easter egg is hard-boiled and dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. It was an important symbol connected with spring fertility rituals in many early civilizations. Another important symbol associated with Easter is the lamb. It is often depicted with a banner that bears a cross, and it is known as the Agnus Dei, meaning "Lamb of God" in Latin.

About Orthodox Easter in other countries

Read more about Orthodox Easter.

Orthodox Easter Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015SunApr 12Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2016SunMay 1Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2017SunApr 16Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2018SunApr 8Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2019SunApr 28Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2020SunApr 19Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2021SunMay 2Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2022SunApr 24Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2023SunApr 16Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2024SunMay 5Orthodox EasterOrthodox
2025SunApr 20Orthodox EasterOrthodox

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