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Catholic Easter: Traditions and prohibitions

Catholic Easter: Traditions and prohibitions March 31 - Catholic Easter (photo: GettyImages)

This Sunday, March 31, Catholics celebrate one of the biggest holidays in Christianity - Easter, the day when Christ resurrected. Some customs are also characteristic of Orthodox Easter, but there are differences in some aspects.

RBC-Ukraine tells about how Catholics celebrate Easter and what cannot be done on this day.

Sources used for material preparation: OCU website, DayToday, Wikipedia, RadioTrack.

Why Easter dates differ

While Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter on May 5, Catholics are celebrating today. Such a significant difference in dates arises because Protestants and Catholics count the date of Easter from the astronomical equinox. However, Orthodox Christians calculate the date from the equinox according to the Julian calendar.

Although non-transitional holidays from September 1, 2023, are celebrated according to both the new Julian and Gregorian calendars, the 13-day difference between the calendars affects the calculation, hence sometimes resulting in significant discrepancies, while other times, the dates of celebrations coincide.

Catholic Easter traditions

Before Easter, Christians observe fasting, abstaining from food of animal origin. However, for Catholics, fasting is less stringent compared to Orthodox Christians.

The last week, Holy Week, before the holiday is particularly important: during this time, the last days of Christ's earthly life are commemorated. In Catholic churches, from Holy Thursday until Easter, church bells do not ring as a sign of mourning.

During this time, people bake Easter cakes, dye eggs, and prepare turkey – preparations for Easter should be completed by Easter.

On the eve of Easter, people wash with holy water and bring home a blessed candle.

On Easter day, there are church services, a processional walk, and the end of fasting is marked by eating Easter eggs and bread in the family circle.

An interesting tradition is the search for Easter eggs in the grass, which can even be replaced with chocolate eggs – it was believed that they were brought by the Easter Bunny, a symbol of fertility.

The week after Easter, Bright Week, is for rest, inviting guests, and visiting relatives.

What not to do

Like on all holidays, on Easter, it's forbidden to quarrel, curse, or wish harm to anyone. It's not advisable to throw away the food that was blessed – it's recommended to leave it for birds or animals. Also, today it's not advised to get married.

In addition, on Easter, work is prohibited, and it's advisable to refrain from household chores.