Why Do Some Countries Celebrate Easter on a Different Day?

Today as we celebrated Easter at White Fields Church in Longmont, Colorado, we had a special greetings sent in from some of the missionaries we support around the world, including several in Ukraine.

See: An Easter Like No Other

Here’s the video of the Easter service, which includes the greetings from those missionaries:

Some of the missionaries in Ukraine mentioned that their country celebrates Easter a week later than we do in the United States, leading some people to ask why that is.

Council of Nicea (325 AD): Setting a Common Date for Easter

The First Ecumenical Council of Christin leaders around the world as held in 325 AD and is known as the Council of Nicea.

Prior to Nicea, churches in different parts of the world celebrated Easter on different Sundays of the year. In order to bring unity, council members created a formula to would calculate the date for Easter for all churches around the world: the first Sunday after the first full moon which follows the vernal equinox, after the Jewish Passover.

To avoid confusion, it determined that the vernal equinox was on March 21. This system guaranteed that all churches around the world celebrated Easter on the same day.

The Great Schism and the Introduction of the Georgian Calendar

In 1054 the Eastern and Western churches split. The division was for theological, cultural, and political reasons. Shortly after this, Pope Gregory VIII introduced the Gregorian calendar, whereas the Eastern Empire continued with the Julian calendar, which had been used since the time of Julius Caesar.

The reason for the introduction of the Gregorian calendar was the realization that the Julian calendar was discovered to be 11 minutes too long, which, though not much, led to the spring equinox no longer being on March 21 by that time. The Gregorian calendar sought to bring correction to this issue, whereas the Eastern Empire (and its churches) continued with the Julian calendar despite the fact that according to it, the vernal equinox was no longer on March 21.

By using two different calendar systems, the vernal equinox now fell on March 21 under the Gregorian calendar and April 3 on the Julian calendar. The two empires (and their churches), as a result, began celebrating Easter on two different days, though on occasion Easter date does still fall on the same day for both calendars (e.g. in 2017 and next in 2025).

As for the question of why the date of Easter changes every year, see: Easter Math: How Does It Add Up?

Upcoming at White Fields

We’ve got a few things happening at White Fields Church in Longmont, Colorado that I wanted to let you know about:

Tomorrow we will be starting a new series called “Church Matters” in which we will be taking four weeks to talk about church: why it matters to God, to us and to the world. We’ll be studying the Bible to see God’s vision for the church, and what therefore we should be about.

White Fields Community Church fényképe.

There is a great local company that helps us with some of our graphic designs: CryBaby Design. Check them out and hit them up if you’re looking for someone to help with graphic design, branding or web design.

We also have a great administrative assistant on our staff who does some design and media work for us, like the following graphic for our upcoming Outdoor Worship Service on August 13, 2017 at 10 a.m.

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If you are in or around Longmont, we’d love to have you join us!

Finally, here is a video preview of what’s happening tomorrow at White Fields. Our mission team we recently sent to Hungary to work with the church that we planted years ago is now back and will be giving an update about what God did through them.

We also have some friends in town who are missionaries in Athens, Greece: Travis and Kristen Spencer, who will be giving a presentation after service about their ministry there.

Here’s that video:

Having Passed the Baton

For many years, the third week of June was one of the highlights of the year for my wife and I. That’s because this is the time when the Foundations Conference takes place in Vajta, Hungary. Foundations is a conference for Calvary Chapel missionaries and national workers from all over Eastern Europe to gather together for a week of fellowship and teaching. It was a time for us of seeing friends we often only saw at that conference, as well as a time of being recharged physically and spiritually, and seeking the Lord.

This year I’ve been keeping up with some of what’s happening at Foundations on Instagram, where I get to see familiar faces and places.

Today on Instagram I saw this photo, which filled me with so many emotions:

In that picture are friends of mine, and they are praying for a young man named Jonathan, who is serving as a missionary in Eger, Hungary at the church Rosemary and I started 9 years ago. Standing behind him is Jani, a man who I first met when he was not a Christian, but who I had the privilege of leading to The Lord, pouring into, raising up in ministry, and who is now the pastor of that church in Eger.

I remember how on the last night of one of these Foundations conferences several years ago, I was up front praying for people, and Jani came up and asked me to pray that God would bless him and his wife with a baby. Only a few months later, we got the good news that Tünde, his wife, was pregnant with their first child.

I’m a bit jealous that I can’t be there withy them right now, but it fills me with so much joy to see these guys who now carry that baton, going for it with all they’ve got. It is a good feeling when something you started takes on a life of its own.

How did I know it was time to leave Hungary?

My wife and I were missionaries in Hungary for over 10 years, where we were doing church planting and humanitarian work with Calvary Chapel. In 2012, we moved from Eger, Hungary to Longmont, CO.

A friend recently asked me how I knew it was time to leave Hungary, and how God spoke to me and led me during that transition. I thought that a video blog would be the best forum for answering that question. Check out my response in this video.

If you have any questions about this topic, leave a comment below – and if you have any questions you’d like me to answer here on the blog, feel free to email me at nick [at] whitefieldschurch.com