Orthodox Easter: the Joy of Jesus's Resurrection
Holiday. Easter (Pascha, or Resurrection Sunday).
When? May 2nd, 2021. It’s celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon and always after Jewish Passover.
Where? All Christian Orthodox believers around the world.
The meaning and history. Easter is the greatest and holiest religious holiday for all Orthodox Christians. This festival celebrates Jesus’ resurrection three days after his crucifixion and death as described in the New Testament. After his death, Jesus’ body was removed from the cross and hastily buried in a tomb. However, on Sunday the tomb was empty and angels declared that Jesus had risen. Throughout the next 40 days, Jesus appears to his apostles and disciples before finally ascending to heaven.
How it is celebrated. The spiritual preparation for Easter begins with Lent which lasts for 48 days and includes strict rules about eating. The last week of Lent is called Palm Week, and ends with Lazarus Saturday. Then comes Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and finally Easter itself. It begins immediately after the Paschal Divine Liturgy.
Orthodox believers go to the church in the middle of the night to listen to the divine service (Agape Vespers) and to see the Easter procession, called Cloister. It starts at midnight and symbolizes the path of the disciples who went to meet the risen Christ.
Well dressed people are waiting for the blessing food, which they bring with them in the Easter baskets. Usually those one contains a festive Easter bread, called “Paskha”, colored eggs, pork, sometimes wine. Eggs symbolize a new life as well as Jesus’ tomb.
Family traditions. “Christ is risen!” - in this way all Orthodox believers greet each other on Easter instead of “Good morning” or “Hallo”. A traditional answer is “He is truly risen!”
“For us it’s very important to bless Easter bread in the church”, tells Peter from Russia about orthodox traditions. “There is a very beautiful ritual to bring light (candles) into the church at the night and to put them into the Easter bread. Family feast begins with the funny game: children and adults “are struggling” with the colored eggs. Whose egg is stronger?
A spiritual meaning of Easter is the joy of the resurrection, of a new life. Jesus overcame death, it's a miracle of resurrection. I guess, only through fasting you are able to feel inner light and happiness on this day”, Peter explains.
People should have fun on Easter: if you are sad during the holy day, you will be depressed all year.
You can see photos of an Easter divine service here: http://www.preobraz.kiev.ua/2016/05/pashalne-bohosluzhinnya-fotoreportazh/
Text: Vita Vitrenko, Photos: Vita Vitrenko, Irina Nimchenko.