Let’s talk Easter! Here are some fascinating Russian Easter Facts!
Even though the Western world has already celebrated Easter, according to Orthodox tradition in 2021 Easter will be held on May 2. Russians observe many Easter traditions, young and old. Although there are no Easter bunnies or chocolate eggs (but there are eggs!), celebrations involve unique and beautiful customs.
- The name. Easter in Russia is called Paskha («Пасха»). In accordance with the Christian tradition, the word signifies transitioning with Christ from death to eternity and from earth to heaven.
- The shifting date. The Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar for determining Easter (falling on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon), which usually results in Orthodox Easter falling later than Catholic Easter, which has been celebrated by the Gregorian calendar since the 16th century.
- The eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are traditionally painted red using onion peels during the last week before the holiday, also known as the Holy Week. Exchanging eggs is one of the most popular Easter customs, and so is the Egg Cracking Competition to determine whose last un-cracked egg will bring the luck. Another game is a so-called Easter Egg Roll, where players roll their eggs down a slope and try to crack another player’s egg while keeping theirs intact.
- The fasting. Paskha is preceded by 40 days of the Great Lent, the most important event in the Orthodox church year. Those who observe it are not supposed to eat meat, dairy, even vegetable oils with other restrictions. It’s not an easy challenge but very satisfying once it ends!
- The Easter food. Right before Easter there’s a tradition of attending Easter mass where people bring Easter baskets filled with special holiday foods (Paskha bread, Kulich, colored eggs, ham, cheese, wine and salt) and have it blessed by the priest. These foods will make the first meal on Easter Sunday marking the end of the 40 day long fast.
- The church night service. The Orthodox Easter church service starts on Saturday evening and lasts until dawn. This is usually an impressive ceremony with candle lights and liturgical chants. At midnight, the bells are rung to announce the resurrection of Christ. This is the time when the priest says “Christ is risen!” («Христос Воскресе!») and parishioners are supposed to respond with “He is truly risen!” («Воистину Воскресе!»)
Celebrating Easter is a very interesting and fascinating process. Have you ever done any of the similar preparations for Easter before?