On Sunday, Orthodox Christians in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East celebrated Orthodox Easter. However, for many residing in Ukraine, the holiest day on the Christian calendar was overshadowed this year by a ferocious battle.

As Ukraine entered the ninth week of a war with Russia, the country’s majority Orthodox Christian populace observed the festival by praying for those putting their lives in danger and fearing for their safety.

Residents of war-torn rural areas approached the occasion with a sense of resistance.

“We’ll celebrate Easter no matter what,” Kateryna Lazarenko, 68, said in the northern village of Ivanivka, near Chernihiv, where destroyed Russian tanks still littered the roadways.

Orthodox Easter, often known as “Greek Easter,” is celebrated by Eastern Christians to commemorate Jesus Christ’s resurrection. It typically includes painted eggs, symbolic food customs such as lamb, and church services. Here’s additional information about the holy day observed by millions around the world.

When is Orthodox Easter celebrated?

The Julian calendar, first proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, is used by the Eastern Orthodox church rather than the Gregorian calendar, which was accepted by Catholic Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. In Western Christian tradition, this means that the holiday usually falls after Easter Sunday.

The last time Orthodox Easter and Western Easter fell on the same day was in 2017, when both ceremonies took place on April 16. However, it will not happen again until 2025.

Many spring religious holidays happened on later dates than usual this year, including Passover, which began on the evening of April 15, and Easter Sunday, which fell on April 17 for the first time in 62 years.

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Who participates in Orthodox Easter?

Orthodox Christians in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East observe Easter on the later date set by the older Julian calendar.

While the event is not always on the same day as Easter Sunday, both Christian festivals commemorate Jesus’ resurrection and are the most important occasion on their respective religious calendars.

The end of “Great Lent,” a 40-day period of fasting from Clean Monday to “Pascha,” Easter Sunday, marks the end of the Greek Orthodox Easter season.

According to a 2015-16 Pew Research Center research, the majority of the world’s nearly 260 million Orthodox Christians dwell in Central and Eastern Europe, with an additional 15% living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the Pew Research Center, Russia, Ethiopia, and Ukraine have the greatest national Orthodox populations, and Moldova has the highest percentage of Orthodox Christians, at 95 percent.

According to the survey, approximately 78 percent of Ukrainian adults are Orthodox Christians, whereas approximately 71 percent of Russian people are Orthodox Christians.

How do the Greeks celebrate Easter?
In Greek tradition, Orthodox Easter is observed by a church service followed by a huge supper with family, with roasted lamb as the main course to represent Christ’s sacrifice. Hard-boiled eggs are also dyed red to commemorate Christ’s blood.

Kulich, a sweet bread created to commemorate Easter and the arrival of spring, is popular in Slavic countries. Before eating it, it is customarily blessed by a priest.

This year, many countries marked the holiday with varying festivities around the world.

According to the Greek Reporter, Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended a Greek Orthodox Easter service in Sydney with Greece’s Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, on Saturday night.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin intend to visit Kyiv on Sunday, the highest-ranking visit by a US delegation to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion.

At a service in Kyiv this weekend, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy implored Ukrainians not to allow their wrath over the war consume them.

“We’re all hoping for a sunrise soon,” he said.