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Orthodox Easter in the United Kingdom

Many Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom 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 28, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in the United Kingdom.

Close detail of lamb chops flame grilling

Lamb is a popular meal among many Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom on Easter Sunday.

©iStockphoto.com/Adam Dodd

What Do People Do?

Many Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom celebrate Holy Pascha according to the Easter date in the Julian calendar. Easter is the most important event in the church calendar. The Easter Sunday church liturgies are joyous as they celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection, according to Christian belief, as well as spiritual victory.

Many churches hold night liturgies which occur at midnight between Holy Saturday and Holy Pascha (or Easter Sunday). These liturgies may last until the early hours of the Easter Sunday morning. A second Easter liturgy is usually held later during the day. Easter lunches or festive meals are popular activities on Easter Day. Lamb and tsoureki, which is a type of Easter bread, are popular Easter dishes in many Greek Orthodox communities in the United Kingdom. Many Romanian Orthodox Christians living in the United Kingdom also eat lamb on Easter Sunday. The feast usually starts when people come home after the midnight liturgy.

Another Orthodox Easter tradition is to decorate Easter eggs in vivid colors and traditional patterns prior to Easter Sunday. The most commonly used color is red, signifying Jesus Christ’s blood. Easter meals often start with knocking and breaking painted eggs, as well as announcing “Christ is risen”. The meal-time contest of knocking eggs continues and the person who breaks the most eggs that belong to others is considered the winner.

Public Life

The Orthodox Christian date for Easter Sunday is held on a Sunday, which is a non-school day and non-working day for many people in the United Kingdom.

Background

Many Orthodox churches base their 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.

There are different types of Orthodox churches in the United Kingdom, including the Greek Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church. Congregation numbers have grown in these churches due to immigration. Many Orthodox Christians in the United Kingdom are immigrants or descendents of immigrants from countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Russia.

It is believed that Greek immigrants started arriving in London during the late 17th century. The United Kingdom experienced a surge of immigrants, especially from Greece and Russia, during the 20th century. They brought with them their customs, traditions, and religious observances.

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 TypeArea
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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