Easter in Russia [pdf Vocabulary List inside]
Easter in Russia (Па́сха) is even more important than Christmas, it’s the major religious celebration of the year. Faithful and atheists, kids and adults, city dwellers and country folk go to church to attend the Easter Mass. Easter in Russia is a lot more than a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Воскресе́ние Христо́во). Easter in Russia is perhaps the only religious holiday that somewhat celebrated even during the Soviet times. Easter cleanses our souls and thoughts. It brings peace, joy and hope. And, of course, the Russians are looking forward to a happy family feast with lots of special Easter food like Easter bread (кули́ч), traditional cake Paskha made of sweet cottage cheese and shaped as a pyramid, Easter eggs(пасха́льные я́йца) and other tasty treats.
кулич пасха пасхальные яйца
In Russia Easter is usually celebrated later than in the West. This happens because Easter dates are determined by different calendars. The Russian-Orthodox church uses the old Julian calendar, whereas the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches switched to the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century.
Easter Traditions and Celebration
A week preceding the festival is called a Light (Holy) Easter week (Све́тлая седми́ца) when every day, starting on Monday, is holy.
But most actively the preparation for the Resurrection of Christ began on the Pure (Bright) Thursday (чи́стый четве́рг). The real faithful was supposed to get up with the dawn to wash in order to be cleansed of all the sins that had accumulated over the whole year.
The eggs are also painted on Holy Thursday and fresh Easter cakes (Pasha) are prepared on Saturday. It’s a tough time as Saturday is the last fasting day (после́дний день Вели́кого Поста́) when orthodox Christians are allowed to eat very little. It is a tradition to bless Easter eggs and bread in the church святи́ть яйца и куличи́
On the very day of Пасха the common phrase you can hear on that day is: “Христос Воскрес” (Christ is risen!), which has to be followed by “Воистину воскрес” (Truly He is risen! This traditional greeting followed by hugging and triple kissing which is called “kiss of peace”. In Russian, there’s a special verb for this – христова́ться, exchange a triple kiss (as Easter salutation). Another funny Easter tradition is to beat egg on an egg, the winner is the one whose egg’s shell remain safe.