Orthodox Easter: history and interesting facts
Practically every Christian associates this holiday with the words “Christ is risen!” However, it is known from the Bible that this holiday was something different for the ancient Jews. When people began to celebrate Easter, what did this holiday mean to them?
What are the roots of modern Easter symbols?
Easter before Christ
For the ancient Jews, Easter (or rather, Pesach, which translates as “pass by”) was a holiday associated with the Exodus of their people from Egyptian slavery. In ancient times, on this day, each family had to slaughter an annual lamb (this is why the animal became the main and oldest symbol of the holiday).
Later, customs changed, and matzo (unleavened bread) became the ritual food.
According to ancient legend, the Messiah (Judah’s king) was supposed to appear in Jerusalem at Easter. Therefore, people so joyfully met Christ, who entered the city on a donkey a few days before the celebration. And for the same reason, the mayor was so alarmed.
Fearing a popular uprising and the fact that Jesus, who had a great influence on people, would want to attack the government, they seized him and executed him.
The calendar of Orthodox (and not only) Easter holidays is not limited to the resurrection of the Lord.
- Maundy Thursday, during which the Last Supper took place (by the way the apostles described this day, it becomes clear that this was a celebration of the Jewish Easter). On the night of this day, because of the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the Son of God was seized.
- Good Friday. The day of execution of the Lamb of God (again referring to Pesach: on this holiday it was decided to lay the lamb as a sign of ritual sacrifice to God).
- Great Saturday. At a time when the whole city celebrates Easter, the high priests order to protect the body of Christ, fearing that the disciples will steal it and declare that He has resurrected, as promised.
- Resurrection of Christ. Myrrh-bearing wives come to the tomb, in which they buried Jesus, to ask the guards to wash the body, but the tomb is covered with a large stone. The Lord sends an angel from heaven who rolls off a stone and shows an empty tomb, telling the women that there is no one for whom they are looking for — He has risen.
We remind: in those days, the day off, finishing the week, was Saturday. Today’s Sunday is a tribute to that very holiday.
- After 8 days, the Son of God came to the disciples. Apostle Thomas said before that he would not believe in the resurrection of his teacher until he saw it with his own eyes (therefore, the admonition “Thomas is not a believer” appeared in our people). Jesus asks him to touch his hand wounds on his palms.
- Ascension of the Lord. 40 days Jesus preaches to disciples and other faithful people. On the 40th day, He ascends into heaven.
- Pentecost. On the 50th day, the disciples receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Orthodox on this day celebrate the Trinity.
The ancient Christians celebrated every Friday the sufferings of Christ (this day was the day of grief and fasting), and Sunday was his joyful return to life. Later, this holiday was celebrated only on the anniversary of the death of Christ.
In the 2nd century, it was already revered by all Christian churches: during the Jewish Passover they celebrated “Lenten Easter”, and on Sunday — “Easter of Joy”.
Over time, the “Easter dispute” arose in different churches, since in different countries this holiday began to be celebrated at different times. Emperor Constantine the Great convened a council in the city of Nicea in 325 (the congress of representatives of all the churches), which was later called the First Ecumenical Council.
They decided to celebrate the day of the celebration first sunday after the first spring full moon. The main point of this reform was: to establish a celebration not on the same day as the Jewish Passover.
True, at that time people continued to celebrate two Easter days: sad and joyful. And only in the 5th century, this name began to denote only a joyful Sunday holiday.
Why do the dates of celebration for Orthodox and Catholics do not converge?
- 1582 year. Pope Gregory the Thirteenth (the Roman Catholic Church) introduced his own Paschal, because of which the entire holiday calendar changed, later being named after his “author” — the Gregorian. In this calendar, Easter can be celebrated not only later Jewish, but before it, and even coincide with it. In one year it may coincide with the Orthodox, in the other — differ by a week, and in the third — by a month.
- 1923 Meletiy the Fourth, Patriarch of Constantinople, at the Christian congress created another calendar, called the new Julian calendar. Orthodox Christians from Romania, Serbia, and Greece switched to it.
- As for the old style (Julian calendar), they are still used by the temples of Georgia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine (not all), as well as Athos.
10 interesting facts about this holiday
- The holiday has many characters that fall on the tables of celebrating people. For example, this is a lamb, about which we have already written above (in our country they often bake a lamb-shaped cake, and in southern countries they still slaughter a young lamb at Easter). In addition, in our day Easter is symbolized by chicken and chickens (no comment here, because we paint or paint eggs). And from the West the fashion for Easter bunnies, a symbol of spring fertility, came to us (modern children love chocolate bunnies very much, they even began to be consecrated in the church on a par with Easter cakes).
- Modern krashanki and pysanki decorate with different colors and patterns. But the most traditional is red. A legend is associated with this color. Mary Magdalene went to the emperor Tiberius, giving him a chicken egg (since it was not customary to come to the audience empty-handed) and proclaiming that Jesus Christ had risen. To which the emperor skeptically remarked: «Can’t stand up dead, just as this white egg cannot suddenly turn red.» At that moment, the egg turned red in the eyes of everyone present. The astonished emperor exclaimed: «Truly risen!»
- Easter eggs are traditional children’s fun. In the Slavic countries, children compete, whose egg will roll longer, or (as in Ukraine) knock an egg on each other, checking who has it stronger. As for Europe and America, adults here hide colorful eggs in the house or in the yard in the morning. The children are looking for them, considering that they have found the «nest of the Easter Bunny.» And of course, if the baby was naughty, a festive rabbit with a bell around his neck wouldn’t look in his yard!
- And in Bulgaria, their entertainment. In this country, at Easter, clay pots are dropped from the roofs of houses.
- The Greeks, as well as the inhabitants of many Latin American countries, kindled a large bonfire near the temple, where the stuffed Judas Iscariot is thrown, wanting to punish him in this way. Often this ritual burning is accompanied by fireworks.
- Small girls in Sweden dress up as witches on this day and, armed with a copper pot, go to their neighbors, demanding sweets.
- As for the American kids, they are most likely to compete in rolling eggs along the track. This game is so popular that it is annually organized by the president in front of the White House. Hundreds of babies come together to ride their krashanka on the presidential lawn.
- Now many people buy chocolate, beaded or wooden eggs. But this Easter symbol can also be from another material. For example, jewelry by Peter Carl Faberge, a German by nationality living in pre-revolutionary Russia, is recognized as the most expensive egg. In 1883, Tsar Alexander ordered a master Easter set, wishing to make a gift to his crowned spouse.
- Kulich — a symbol of the holiday. Meanwhile, in the old books there is no mention of such festive baking. The fact is that special spring bread is a pagan tradition, which in our country has migrated to church rules. But modern housewives decorate Easter cakes with crosses, making this baking look like a small temple.
- On this day, it was necessary to balancing with all the relatives. This is convenient to do if you live in one city or village, because at Easter everyone traditionally goes on a visit. But what if your family is far away? In this case, even in pre-revolutionary times (and not only in Russia) hundreds of holiday cards were printed, which people sent to relatives and friends. We decided to decorate our article with them!
- Returning from the church with consecrated Easter cakes early in the morning, Orthodox Christians (not only exchange the ritual greetings «Christ is risen» — «truly rose»), but also kiss three times, which was repeatedly shown on holiday cards. In ancient days this custom lasted not one, but 40 days.
- Holy Fire. It ignites in the Temple of the Holy Sepulcher. Priests deliver it from Jerusalem to their cities, spreading it to various churches. Believers can buy a lamp and a candle, and after the service carry this fire into their home. It is believed that it should be maintained throughout the year.
- Bells are loudly announcing Easter. On this day, all believers can climb the bell tower and try themselves as a bell ringer. Of course, first of all the children run there. That is sonorous and joyful in the churchyard! Especially when you consider that before this all the bells were silent for a long time as a sign of sadness for the Passion of Christ.
- Traditionally, most holiday works (baking cakes, making paskas of cottage cheese, coloring eggs) is done on Holy Thursday. Also, this holiday is called Clean, so the hostess these days wash the windows and clean the house. And of course, what a clean day without bathing the whole family!
And there is also an opinion that in the Slavic countries Easter is closely connected with many ancient magical beliefs. Is it really? The answer is in this short documentary:
Guess today with the help of the tarot spread "Day map"!
For proper divination: focus on the subconscious and do not think about anything at least 1-2 minutes.