Russian Easter. Can You Say “Христос Воскрес”? Posted by Jenya on Apr 16, 2014 in Culture, History, language, Traditions
This year Пасха (Easter) in Russia and Easter here in US coincidentally fall on the same day, so I decided to give you an overview of what Easter is like in Russia.
First of all, forget the bunny; there is no Easter bunny in Russia. Also, forget the whole Easter basket for kids: Easter in Russia is not about hiding eggs or giving out candy-filled baskets. In a nutshell, Russian Easter boils down to stopping at church at some point of the day, dyeing eggs, baking куличи and getting together with family for a meal.
Lunar calendar is used to determine the exact date. Russian Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the spring full moon. This year, spring fool moon is on Tuesday, April 15th. That means Russian Easter will be celebrated on April 20th.
People begin to actively prepare for Easter on Thursday. The Thursday before Easter is called Чистый or Светлый Четверг (Clean Thursday). On this day many people go to church to ask for forgiveness, to cleanse themselves from the sin, so to speak. It is also typical to clean the house, start красить яйца (dyeing eggs) and печь куличи (baking kulichi).
Traditionally, Russians use onion peels for egg dyeing. People usually start saving regular yellow onion peel a month or two before Easter. When the time comes, the eggs are boiled with the onion peel for quite some some; a reddish-brown color that develops as a result is rich and 100% natural. Today many people also use artificial dyes and decorative shrink wrap.
Куличи, along with eggs, are the two staples of Русская Пасха. Кулич is a special type of sweet bread made with yeast dough and decorated with egg-white frosting.
During the week preceding Easter, a lot of Russian churches hold всенощная — a service that lasts most of the night and includes ritual walking around the church for quite some time.
Easter is a family holiday in Russia. Armed with eggs and baked goods, you either go visit your family, have them visit you, or get together with friends if family is not around.
When greeting somebody on Easter, you would say “Христос воскрес!” (Christ has risen!) and the other person would respond “Воистину воскрес!” (Indeed he has!). You would then also exchange eggs.
Освящение куличей и яиц (blessing of kulichi & eggs) is another typical ritual that takes place during Easter week. You can bring your own food to church to have it blessed.
Lastly, most people play the egg game: two people smack the tips of their eggs together, the person whose egg survived the smack wins. The winner proceeds to smack eggs with other participants.
I have now officially mastered making yeast dough, but I am not baking any куличи this year; however, I will try to make some onion-dyed eggs!
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