Easter is a celebration to honour the resurrection of Jesus Christ which takes place on a Sunday. It is probably the brightest and greenest springtime festivity for all Christians. Nevertheless, the date for the Orthodox Easter is usually later than the one of other churches in the west.
We, Bulgarians, are Orthodox as are Greeks, Russians, Serbians, Ukrainians, and some other countries – mainly in Eastern Europe.
Why the Orthodox and Catholic Easters Are Usually Celebrated on Different Dates?
There are two main reasons about the Orthodox Pascha (Easter) occurring on a different date than the Catholic one.
First of all, when determining the day of Easter, the Orthodox Church continues to stick to the Julian calendar while all the rest follow the Gregorian calendar. A 13-day difference exists between the two and the Gregorian being 13 days ahead of the Julian.
The second reason is that the Orthodox Church abides by a rule laid out by the First Ecumenical Council that occurred in Nicea, 325 years after Christ was born. Following that rule and with the purpose of keeping up with the Biblical sequence of Christ’s Passion, Easter must be held after the Jewish Pesach (Passover).
These two factors lead to the Orthodox Easter taking place from 1 to 5 weeks later than the Catholic one. Now and then, however, when the full moon after the equinox is counted as the first full moon after March 21st in both calendars, the two dates match.
What Do Orthodox Christians Do around Easter?
The preparations for the Orthodox Easter commence with 40 days of stern fasting prior to it. Over the fasting period, no meat nor dairy are allowed. During the Holy Week before it, a good majority of people attend liturgies.
Bulgarians, as many other Orthodox people, prepare the Easter bread (called “козунак” or “kozunak”). Kozunak is a Stollen type of sweet bread which is a mixture of milk, sugar, butter, eggs, and lemon zest. The pastry is then baked. Other additives may vary from raisins and nuts and lokum.
The real symbol of Easter, though, are boiled eggs which are died in different opulent colours (red is predominant since it represents the blood of Christ). After the eggs are died, it is time for the real battle where one engages his/her egg against the eggs of their friends. The owner of the last remaining uncracked egg is deemed lucky.
As I mentioned, Russians are also Orthodox. Here are some photos by a good friend of mine who lives in Moscow. You can read more about Alfiya in her blog.
Do you celebrate this bright festivity? How do you do it in your country? Share some insights with me in the comments below.