03 Apr What is Easter in Russia?
Easter is coming and while Orthodox Christians spend a Holy week, the last week of Lent which is the time of preparation for Pascha (Easter), the Western Church (both Catholic and Protestant) have already celebrated this amazing day!
We found out, that Russian Orthodox traditions of celebrating Easter differ from those of the Western Church Easter. How does Easter in Russia look like? How do most of Russians celebrate this holiday?
WHEN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE EASTER?
As you might know, usually Orthodox Christian Easter is later than the Western Church one. The reason is calendar issue and the adherence by the Orthodox to the early practices of the Christian Church. The Western Church celebrates Easter on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon of that year. The Orthodox Church bases their Easter on a Julian calendar. So this year we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ a week later after Catholic Christians, on April 8, 2018.
WHY DO WE CALL IT “PASCHA”?
In Russia, we call Easter – Pascha. The word Pascha has a Greek and Latin origin. “Pascho” in Greek means “to suffer”, while the Hebrew word “pasach” which means Passing with Christ to the other life.
In Russia, there is a tradition to dye hen eggs. You may buy a special kit for dying, various stickers in any store but the most traditional way is to color eggs with onion skins. Collect the outer skins from white onions in advance and boil eggs with it, you will get a beautiful red color with different shades.
Some Russian families like to paint eggs. How do you do it? Take any color paintings, a brush and turn on your imagination. We liked to draw small churches, flowers, someone was so creative that drawn the night sky with real constellations! The main thing here is not to be afraid and start painting!
Once you have made your beautiful eggs and they dried it is time for the “egg-fight”. It is a 15-seconds competition: people take an egg in the hand and hit the tip of somebody else’s egg. If the shell stays uncracked you hit another person’s egg. The winner is the one who cracked all other’s eggs.
TRADITIONAL FOOD ON EASTER DAY: PASCHA or KULICH
Traditional food for Pascha includes Kulich: a big baked sweet bread made according to the special recipe and Pascha a thing made of tvorog (Russian cottage cheese), raisins and nuts. Both are very delicious and special.
When people congratulate each other on Easter Sunday in Russia, they usually say:
– Christ has risen! /Christos voskres/
– Risen Indeed! /Voistinu voskres/
And in the end kiss each other on cheeks three times symbolizing belief, hope, and love.
We wish you happy easter time!
P.S. The photos are from the previous Pascha celebration.