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January 28, 2022

Christians are celebrating Easter

Christians celebrate Easter on April 20, a celebration which is perhaps the most important day to Christians, as it provides the basis for Christian faith. As part of the sacred celebration, there are many customs and traditions.
For Orthodox Christians beginning Monday of Holy Week through and including Holy Saturday, a strict fast is observed. From Holy Monday on, the daily services remind the faithful that “Jesus, the bridegroom of the church” is coming, and they need to be ready to welcome him by living the Christian life he taught.
By Holy Thursday, passion events are building and the institution of the Eucharist is observed, marking the first Eucharistic meal. Holy Thursday is marked with the institution of the Eucharist in the morning, and in the evening, the 12 passion gospels are read. The readings detail the last few days of Christ’s life. The liturgical services mirror the biblical account. Great and Holy Friday is a day of total fasting. Although the day is filled with the services of the church, there is no Divine Liturgy served on this day.
The Orthodox are suppose to eat nothing at all, at least until the conclusion of the afternoon vespers service on Good Friday. When a vespers service is sung on Holy Friday, the holy shroud, an icon of Christ lying in the tomb, is carried in procession around the church and then placed in a replica tomb surrounded by flowers. The shroud remains in the tomb until the vigil of the resurrection is celebrated on Holy Saturday night. Children of the Sunday school act as ‘grave guards’ until Holy Saturday night. The shroud is then removed from the tomb and placed on the altar, where it remains for 40 days until Ascension Thursday.
Holy Saturday embodies the idea that Christ was God and man and was in the tomb. Easter morning is announced with the ringing of the church bells that have been silenced since Holy Thursday night. Divine Liturgy is celebrated, and the Eucharist is shared. The atmosphere is one of sheer joy as worshippers greet one another with the greeting ‘Christ Is Risen,’ which is answered with ‘Indeed He Is Risen!’
The Eucharist on Easter breaks the Lenten fast. The Easter meal is replete with meats, rich breads, buttermilk and cheese foods, together with desserts that are served only on Easter and are blessed after the Paschal Liturgy. The week following Easter is called Bright Week, and there is no fasting.
Traditions and significance
Easter season is the most significant and sacred time of the Orthodox Church calendar. Orthodox Easter consists of a series of celebrations (movable feasts) commemorating the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the spiritual preparations begin with Great Lent, a 40-day period of self-examination and fasting (including Sundays), which starts on Clean Monday and culminates on Lazarus Saturday. Clean Monday falls seven weeks before Easter Sunday. The term “Clean Monday” refers to a cleansing from sinful attitudes through the Lenten fast. Lazarus Saturday occurs eight days before Easter Sunday and signifies the end of Great Lent.
Fasting continues throughout Holy Week. Many Orthodox churches observe a Paschal Vigil which ends just before midnight on Holy Saturday (or Great Saturday), the last day of Holy Week on the evening before Easter. Immediately following the vigil, Easter festivities begin with Paschal Matins, Paschal Hours, and the Paschal Divine Liturgy. Paschal Matins is an early Morning Prayer service or part of an all-night prayer vigil. Paschal Hours is a brief, chanted prayer service, reflecting the joy of Easter. And Paschal Divine Liturgy is a communion or Eucharist service. These are the first celebrations of Christ’s resurrection and are considered the most important services of the ecclesiastical year.
Easter in Romania
Easter in Romania is celebrated according to the rituals of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Easter entire season consists of Flowers Saturday (Lazarus’ Saturday), Palm Day (Flowers Day), Great Thursday, Great Friday, Easter, The Small Fountain and Good People’s Easter. Each of these has small interesting rituals. The Easter celebration goes on for a long week and finally wraps with Good People’s Easter celebrated in honor of the ancient spirits.
The Friday before the Easter is called the Great Friday or the Friday of sufferings, as it is the day when Jesus was crucified. On Saturday, people go to church for the midnight mass, taking with them a bowl of Pasca, eggs and steak, where these aliments are blessed by the clergy. On returning home from the mass, people first eat some of the sanctified aliments and only then the rest.
Starting with Holy Thursday, people start painting eggs in a multitude of colours. The predominant colour is red, but other colours are also applied – yellow, green, blue and even black. Decorated eggs or ‘oua incondeiate’ are an integral part of Easter celebration in Romania. The eggs are decorated using a type of thin and round sticks called chisita, made of beech wood.
In some regions (Bucovina, Transylvania), there is a tradition called “the wetting”. On Monday morning, the boys take a bucket of water and go to the houses of the unmarried girls. If they found them sleeping, the boys throw water on them. As it is believed that those girls will marry soon, they reward the boys who had wetted them by giving them the most beautiful decorated eggs and Pasca or cake.

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