Orthodox Easter Calendar Explained

Date of High Holiday and other differences between Orthodox and Western Christian Faiths


Paterson, N.J. – March 20, 2018 – Easter is the most sacred holiday for Eastern Orthodox Christians and Western Christians, but waiting for it to take place on the same day is a little like waiting for an eclipse: This year Easter takes place on April 1 for those of Western Christian Churches (which includes Roman Catholic, Protestant and Anglican faiths) and April 8 for the Eastern Orthodox Church, which includes the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Churches. Both Easters aligned last year, but won’t again until 2025! This is an issue that especially affects companies such as Kontos Foods, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of traditional artisan breads and Mediterranean specialty foods. Its owner, Steve Kontos, and his family are Greek Orthodox, while the company’s employees are Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic or from other Protestant faiths. Kontos Foods closes every year on the Western Church’s Good Friday so its employees can attend services.


Why does the Orthodox holiday often come as many as five weeks later?

There are two main reasons the dates are off, as much as five weeks. Both utilize the same formula, (the first full moon, on or after the Spring Equinox).  The Eastern Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar (set by Julius Caesar) when calculating the date for Easter, (or Pascha as it’s referred to). The rest of Christianity follows the Gregorian calendar, started by Pope Gregory in 1582 to fix a length issue with the Julian calendar, which had allowed the Holy Day to drift away from the Spring Equinox, a time period in which the early church originally associated it. There is a 13-day difference between the two calendars.

Secondly, early Eastern Orthodox doctrine dictates Pascha must take place after the Jewish Passover to maintain the timeline of Christ’s life and Crucifixion. Western Churches don’t adhere to this doctrine; therefore, its Easter can take place before, during or after Passover.


Red Eggs, Braided Bread and Honey Walnut Cake

There are other differences between the two holidays. Instead of pastels, Easter eggs in the Eastern Orthodox tradition are dyed a deep red color to symbolize the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes those eggs are incorporated into braided bread known as Tsoureki. Every family has their own version of this bread, and the Kontos family’s recipe is available here. Feel free to substitute multicolored eggs into the recipe. Karidopita is a Lenten Walnut Cake, which translates roughly to “Walnut Pie.” This moist, flavorful walnut cake is flavored with cinnamon, cloves and orange juice; topped with powdered sugar, and is made with oil vs. butter. It’s traditionally served during Lent, the 40 days before Easter, or Easter itself.

Spanakopita, Hearty Stew

Spanakopita makes an attractive side dish for any meal; it can also serve as a main entrée for your vegetarian guests and is perfect for Easter. And for a main course, Kontos Foods Corporate Executive Chef Demetrios Haralambatos has created a classic Greek stew called Kokkinisto. This hearty stew can be made with lamb or veal, and is cooked in a succulent garlic tomato sauce and served with Kontos Pocket-Less Pita® to soak up the sauce.

“We’re used to juggling the two Easters and we’re more than happy to accommodate our employees if the Holy Day falls on a different date as it so often does,” says Steve Kontos, Owner of Kontos Foods. “We’re also so pleased to be able to share our family recipes, which go well with any Easter meal no matter the faith tradition.”


Find Kontos Foods on Twitter @KontosFoods, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Kontosfoods and on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/kontosfoods/. Kontos sells its products to retailers and foodservice establishments across North America and around the world.


About Kontos Foods

Founded in 1987, Kontos Foods, Inc. is a Paterson, New Jersey-based provider of artisan breads and traditional Mediterranean foods for restaurants, hotels, food service, retail specialty stores and supermarkets worldwide. The family-owned company specializes in hand-stretched flatbreads, including the Kontos Pocket-Less Pita®, Fillo dough, pastries, olives, gyro meats, and Greek yogurts, as well as nearly 50 varieties of multi-ethnic flatbreads. Kontos, which has over 275 employees and was founded by Evripides (Evris) and Steve Kontos, who together bring over 100 years’ experience in the premium food industry. The company’s bread and Fillo products are made in the USA. Visit www.kontos.com or call (973) 278-2800.


Media Contact:

Patty Yeager

Fastlane Communications

(855) 677-5263, ext. 109



Kontos Contact:

Warren Stoll

Kontos Foods Inc.

(973) 278-2800, ext. 326