Date added: 04/14/2012 Easter Day (Pascha) in Russia
April 15 of 2012 is the Easter Day in Russia and in some other countries which follow to Julian calendar (except Russian Orthodox Church the churches of some other countries follow it – Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, Georgia). There is much confusing with dates of religious Christian holidays in Western countries and in countries which were just listed. To make things simple just add 13 days and you get the date of a holiday in accordance with Eastern Orthodox Church counting, except Easter day as this holiday is celebrated not in fixed date, like Christmas, but it is established in accordance with quite complicate counting.
Pascha as it is called in Russia or Easter as it is sounded in English is the most important religious holiday in Russia, even more important than Christmas. Why? Easter is the day when Our Savior Jesus Christ was risen from the dead in accordance with predictions on the third day. "Christ is risen from the dead, tramping down Death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life" as it is sung in church hymn. For all people he opened the way to future life - when human earthy life comes to the end the new eternal life starts. What the new live is depends on our live on Earth. Jesus Christ taught people how they should live in order "to be saved".
It is necessary to say that in Russia formally about 70% of inhabitants are Orthodox Christians though in reality not more than 10% of them follow all religious rules that Orthodox Church determines – follow all feasts, regularly attend church services, follow the rules of prayers and, what is most important, live in accordance with commandments of Jesus Christ. So if to be honest and strict majority of inhabitants of Russia are not religious – Russia is like other so called "civilized" country and the problem of de-Christianity is common. In spite of this the main religious holidays are celebrated with much diligence and fervor, to be correct the religious holidays turned into plain civil holidays, these are just reasons to make merry and to have a spree.
Easter is very special day. In this day special dishes are prepared – first of all a special cylinder shape cake which is called Kulich. Then housewives dye eggs. Hard boiled chicken eggs are dyed into different colors, some artistically gifted persons decorate eggs with different paintings. Since old times in Russia there is a tradition in Easter day to gift each other eggs. As to those who followed the Lenten fast strictly (it is worth to say that rules are quite severe, it is not allowed to eat meat, milk products, eggs; fish and oil can be used only in some certain days) the egg is the first meal that they have after long fast and after long Easter church service. The third typical Easter dish is pascha – a sweet dish cooked on base of cottage cheese with addition of cream, eggs, sugar, raisins. All these three dishes – Easter cake kulich, pascha and painted eggs are brought to the church and sanctified. Other popular Easter holiday dishes are meat jelly (holodets), roasted meat and other.
A few words about the church Easter service. It is special service which starts at 11 pm in Saturday and lasted for some hours till 4-5 am of Sunday. It is necessary to mention that in Russian there are no chairs and people stand all service. So you can imagine (or can not) that only true Christians can accept it. At midnight the priest announces "Christ is risen!" and all people repeat loudly answered "He is risen indeed!" and it is repeated many times. Then after the long liturgy the Eucharist (the sacramental communion) has place and then people go home.