Easter in St Petersburg

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Russian-Orthodox Easter

News: 2011-04-22

Easter in Russia is usually celebrated later than in the West, because Easter dates are determined by different calendars. 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. This year Easter is celebrated the same day in Russia and in the west, which happens 3 times during the period of 19 years.

At midnight ringing church bells announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Priests come to the altar holding a crucifix and candles. Solemnly singing, they walk through the church and then around it. Everyone lights the candles and follows the procession. Churches and cathedrals are full of singing voices and candle lights. The Orthodox liturgical chant substitutes a Catholic organ and creates a very special atmosphere. As there are no bench rows in Orthodox churches, some people find it difficult to stand the whole mass going on for hours. But the impressive ceremony is worth of it. The Easter service ends early in the morning. Church bells start ringing, the singing gets louder, and finally the priests tell people to forgive each other and seal it with a hug and a kiss. Everyone happily follows this appeal.

The holy week is very busy in most Russian homes. Once a spring cleaning is done, it’s time for baking Eastern bread. The eggs are painted on Holy Thursday and fresh Eastern cakes are baked on Saturday. It’s a tough time as Saturday is the strictest fasting day when it’s not allowed to eat. Tasting food while cooking is also forbidden.

In Russia Easter eggs are believed to possess magic powers. They are supposed to protect crops against hail damage, keep cattle healthy and ward off evil spirits. One day someone started making and painting wooden eggs. Porcelain eggs are very precious. The most exquisite ones are the Imperial Easter Eggs designed by the world-famous jeweller P.Faberg?s for the Russian Royal Family.