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FAQ on Easter:

Why is Greek Easter on a Different Date?


Night time Easter Good Friday procession of Epitaphio through streets by congregation of Orthodox Church in Saronida, Attica
Andrew Holt/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
I always know when Easter is approaching because the Greece for Visitors mailbox starts filling up with questions like: "When is Greek Easter?" In 2014, it's on April 20th- the same as "Western" Easter in 2014 - and here are the dates through 2023 for those who really like planning their trips to Greece in advance.

"Are Greek Easter and Western Easter celebrated on the same day?" Sometimes. You can find out when they coincide here.

Reader Amy I. just asked, "How is Greek Easter calculated?" This is the fun one - the day is governed by these three main conditions:

  • It must be based on the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar;
  • It must be after the Jewish holiday of Passover;
  • It must be on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which for this purpose is fixed as March 21st.

For an intense discussion of calculating Easter in general, with a short section on the special difficulties of calculating Greek Easter, see Claus Tondering's Calendar FAQ - but don't say I didn't warn you.

The Short Answer - Why Western and Eastern Easter are Different

The basic reason for the difference between the two Easters is that "Western" Easter uses a different set of calculations based on the current Gregorian calendar created by Pope Gregory instead of the ancient Julian one, first used under the Roman emperor Julian. Under the Gregorian system, Easter can actually be in March, something that will not happen with the Julian-based method of calculating Easter.

Traveling in Greece during Easter? Be Careful

When finding out about "Easter Specials" in Greece, be cautious. Some islands with a partly Catholic population and many hotels will be offering specials on both dates, so be sure it's the one you want at the time of your visit. Go by the actual dates rather than saying something like "I'll be there Easter weekend!" Greeks will generally assume you mean Greek Easter - but many foreign travel agents may assume you mean Western Easter. And then, of course, there are some years when they really are the same, confusing things even more thoroughly.

Missed Easter? You May Be in Time for Pentecost

If you missed Easter in Greece, the observance of Pentecost offers some nice events and ceremonies at a more tourist-friendly time of year. There will be church ceremonies and on many islands and in small towns open feasts with special foods and celebrations. The Greek island of Milos is noted for its Pentecost observances, and some Greek travel agents arrange special trips to the island at this time of year. As with many Greek religious events, the previous evening is the most vivid for the visitor. But all Greek Orthodox churches will be marking the day in some way. Here are the dates for Pentecost in Greece

There's more to explore about Easter in Greece:

Greek Easter Pictures
Make Red Eggs for Greek Easter Using Natural Dyes
Another Method for Greek Easter Eggs
Easter Trips and Specials for Greece

Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday
- April 20th (same)

Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday
- April 12th
Western Easter Sunday
- April 5th

Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday
- May 1st
Western Easter Sunday
- March 27th

Plan Your Own Trip to Greece

Flights To and Around Greece: Athens and Other Greece Flights at Travelocity - The airport code for Athens International Airport is ATH.

Find and Compare prices on: Hotels in Greece and the Greek Islands

Book your Own Day Trips Around Athens

Book your Own Short Trips Around Greece and the Greek Islands

Book Your Own: Sightseeing Trips on Crete
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