The Feast of the Bright Resurrection, Easter, is the main event of the year for Orthodox Christians and the largest Orthodox holiday. The word «Easter» came to us from the Greek language and means «transgression», «deliverance». On this day, we celebrate the deliverance through Christ the Savior of all mankind from slavery to the devil and granting us life and eternal bliss. As the cross of Christ’s death, our redemption is accomplished, so His eternal life is granted to us by the Resurrection.
The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation and the crown of our faith, this is the first and greatest truth that the apostles began to preach.
The Holy Week is dedicated to the remembrance of the last days of the Savior’s earthly life, His suffering on the Cross, death and burial. Due to the greatness and importance of the events, every day of this week is called holy and great. These consecrated days are perceived by believers as a divine feast, illuminated by the joyful consciousness of the salvation obtained through the sufferings and death of the Savior. Therefore, in these holy days, neither the memory of the saints, nor the commemoration of the departed, nor the prayer of the prayers are performed. As in all great holidays, the Church even these days calls on believers to take spiritual participation in the services performed and to become partakers of sacred memories.
From the apostolic times, the days of Holy Week were in deep esteem among Christians. Believers spent the Passion Week in the strictest abstinence, zealous prayer, in the deeds of virtue and mercy.
All the services of Holy Week, distinguished by the depth of pious emotions, contemplation, special touch and duration, are arranged so that in them the history of the sufferings of the Savior, His last divine instruction, is alive and gradually reproduced.
Great Monday the Church recalls the Old Testament patriarch Joseph the Beautiful, out of the envy sold by the brothers to Egypt, which transformed the sufferings of the Savior. Moreover, this day is remembered by the withered Lord, covered with rich foliage, but a barren fig tree serving as hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, who, despite their outward piety, the Lord did not find the good fruits of faith and piety, but only the hypocritical shadow of the Law. Like a barren, withered fig tree, every soul that does not bear the fruits of the spiritual is true repentance, faith, prayer, and good deeds.
On Great Tuesday, the Lord’s revelation of the scribes and Pharisees is recalled, His conversations and parables, which he said on that day in the Temple of Jerusalem: about the tribute to Caesar, about the resurrection of the dead, about the Last Judgment, about the ten virgins and talents.
In Great Wednesday, a sinner-wife, washed with tears and anointed with the precious world of the Savior’s feet, was remembered when he was at the supper at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, and thereby prepared Christ for burial. Here, Judas imagined his avarice for the imaginary care of the poor, and in the evening he decided to sell Christ to the Jewish elders for 30 pieces of silver (an amount sufficient at the then prices to purchase a small piece of land even in the vicinity of Jerusalem).
On Thursday Holy Week, the four most important evangelical events that took place on this day are recalled: The Last Supper, in which the Lord established the New Testament sacrament of Holy Communion (Eucharist), the Lord’s washing of His disciples' feet, as a sign of profound humility and love for them, the Savior’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and treachery of Judah.
Day of the Great Heel is dedicated to the memory of condemnation to death, the Crosses of suffering and the death of the Savior. In the service of this day, the Church, as it were, delivers us at the foot of the Cross of Christ and portrays the saving sufferings of the Lord before our reverent and trembling eyes. At Matins of the Great Heel (usually it is served on Thursday evening), the 12 Gospels of the Covenant of the Holy Passions are read. At the end of Vespers on Good Friday, the ceremony of carrying out the Shroud of Christ is performed, depicting His position in the hump, after which there is a reading of the canon of the crucifixion of the Lord and the weeping of the Most Holy Theotokos, then the evening service should be dismissed and the attachment to the Shroud is performed.
On Great Saturday, the Church remembers the burial of Jesus Christ, the stay of His body in the tomb, the descent into hell for the victory there over the death and the deliverance of souls who in faith awaited His coming, and the introduction of a prudent thief into paradise. Divine services on this day begin early in the morning and continue until the end of the day, so that the last Sabbath songs, the so-called Easter midnight, merge with the beginning of the solemn Easter songs at the Easter Matins.
About the greetings and Lobzanii on Easter Day
The custom of greeting each other in Easter with these words is very ancient. Welcoming each other with the joy of the resurrection of Christ, we are likened to the disciples and disciples of the Lord, who, after His resurrection, «said that the Lord was truly risen.» In short words «Christ is Risen!» Is the whole essence of our faith, all the firmness and steadfastness of our hope and hope, the fullness of eternal joy and bliss. These words, which are repeated many times every year, always, nevertheless, amaze our ears with their novelty and the meaning of a higher revelation. As from a spark, from these words the believing heart is ignited by the fire of heavenly, holy delight, as if feels a close presence. The most shining Divine light of the risen Lord. It is clear that our proclamations «Christ is Risen!» And «Truly Risen!» Must be animated by living faith and love of Christ.
With this Easter greeting, a kiss is joined. It is an ancient sign of reconciliation and love, dating back to the time of the apostles.
From ancient times it was and is being performed on the days of Easter. St. John Chrysostom wrote the holy kiss in the days of Easter: «Let us also remember those holy kisses, which we give each other in reverent embraces.»
About Easter gifts
The custom of giving each other for Easter colored eggs appeared in the first century of the Nativity of Christ. Church tradition says that in those days it was accepted, visiting the emperor, to bring him a gift. And when the poor disciple of Christ, Saint Mary Magdalene came to Rome to the Emperor Tiberius with the preaching of faith, she gave Tiberius a simple chicken egg. Tiberius did not believe in the story of Mary about the Resurrection of Christ and exclaimed: «How can someone rise from the dead? It’s just as impossible as if this egg suddenly turned red. «Immediately before the eyes of the emperor, a miracle happened — the egg turned red, witnessing the truth of the Christian faith
On the consecration of Easter and Easter cakes
Easter cake is a church-ritual food. Kulich is the genus of artos at the lower degree of sanctification.
Where does the Easter cake come from and why on Easter they bake and consecrate cakes?
We, the Christians, should especially receive communion on the day of Easter. But since many Orthodox Christians have a custom of accepting the Holy Mysteries during the Great Lent, and on the Bright Day of the Resurrection of Christ, few are communing, then on this day the special offerings of believers, usually called Easter and Easter cakes, are blessed and consecrated in the temple in order to the taste of them reminded us of the communion of the true Easter of Christ and united all the faithful in Jesus Christ.
The use of consecrated sabbaths and Easter cakes in Svetlaya Sedmitsa among Orthodox Christians can be likened to the eating of the Old Testament Passover, which on the first day of the Easter week the people of God chose familyly. Also, with the blessing and consecration of Christian shepherds and Easter cakes, believers on the first day of the feast, having come home from the temples and having completed the feat of fasting, as a sign of joyful unity, the whole family begins the bodily reinforcement — stopping shit, everyone eats blessed Easter cakes and Easter, using them throughout the entire Bright Week.
On the seven-day celebration of Easter
The holiday of Easter from its very beginning was a bright, universal, lasting Christian celebration.
Since the apostolic times the holiday of the Christian Easter lasts seven days, or eight, if we count all the days of the continuous celebration of Easter until Fomin Monday.
Glorifying Passover sacred and mysterious, the Passover of Christ the Redeemer, Easter opens for us the doors of paradise, the Orthodox Church, for the whole bright seven-day celebration, has the Royal Gates open. The royal doors in the entire Bright Week do not close even during the communion of priests.
Ending the bright Easter triumph of the week, the Church continues it, albeit with less solemnity, for another thirty-two days — before the Ascension of the Lord.
On the Remembrance of the Dead on Easter Days
Many on Easter holiday visit the cemetery, where the graves of their loved ones are. Unfortunately, in some families there is a blasphemous custom to accompany these visits to the graves of their relatives by wild drunken revelry. But even those who do not cope on their graves with their pagan drunkenness, so offensive to every Christian feeling, often do not know when on Easter days it is possible and necessary to commemorate the dead.
The first commemoration of the deceased is performed on the second week, after Fomin Sunday, on Tuesday.
The basis for this commemoration is, on the one hand, the recollection of the descent of Jesus Christ into hell connected with Fomin’s resurrection, and on the other — the permission of the Church Charter to create the usual commemoration of the departed, beginning with Fomin Monday. By this permission, believers come to the graves of their neighbors with joyful news about the Resurrection of Christ, hence the very day of the commemoration is called Radonitsa.
The article uses materials from the site http://www.pravmir.ru and the «Book of the Clergy»