Orthodox Easter, Paskha, is the major religious celebration of the year - a long and powerful tradition that Communist did not succeed to eliminate. In Russia Easter is usually celebrated later as 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.
The preparations to the day begin the week before with spring deep cleaning, colouring eggs, baking Easter cakes, making traditional Paskha spread and other tasty treats. They are then taken to a local church to be blessed by the priest.
Already on a Saturday night people put on their best clothes and come together to dark churches that symbolise a gloomy world without the light of faith. At midnight church bells announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ and priests come to the altar holding a crucifix and candles. Solemnly singing, they walk through the church with people lighting their candles as he passes and joining the procession. Churches and cathedrals are full of singing voices and candle lights. The Easter service ends early in the morning when the priests go around the crucifix. Church bells unite in a complex beautiful song, the singing in the church gets louder, and finally the priests calls everybody to forgive each other and seal it with a hug and a kiss. People exclaim: Christ is risen! (Khristos Voskrese!), and reply: He is truly risen!” (Voistinu Voskese!).
The Easter day is celebrated with a feast - the table is decorated with fresh flowers, pussy-willow branches, painted eggs and candles brought from the church. It is traditional to visit cemeteries and bring eggs and bread to the graves. In doing so, people let deceased loved ones celebrate the Easter.
Easter eggs are believed to bring happiness and good luck and are used to be kept as lucky charms for a long time. Wooden, porcelain and gemstone eggs are common. with the most exquisite ones to be the Imperial Easter Eggs designed by the world-famous jeweller Peter Carl Faberge for the Russian Royal Family.
One of fun Easter traditions is egg fights, which involves two people holding eggs in their hand and knocking them. If your egg cracks, you are defeated.
- Attend a midnight service at one of Russian churches for a truly unique and unforgettable experience of sharing this beautiful celebration. Please note that Orthodox churches do not have benches and presume standing service. Some people find it difficult to stand the whole mass, but the impressive ceremony is worth every effort
- If unable to attend a mass, you can watch the Main Easter Service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savoir in the centre of Moscow held by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
- Visit the Armoury to enjoy the largest collection of the Faberge eggs in the world, as well its stunning display of historical and cultural artefacts