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Orthodox Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the second new moon of the spring season, between April 4th and May 8th. All Orthodox Christian communities including: Ujkranians, Belorurussians, Yugosalvs, Greeks, Romanians, Arabic Christians, Ethiopian Christians and the like. Orthodox Easter is the most significant and scared season of the Eastern Christian observance. It is observed annually with a series of celebrations marking the death and ressurrection of Jesus Christ. The date of Orthodox Easter changes every year. Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on a different day than Western churches, but sometimes the dates coincide. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity the spiritual preparations for Easter begin with Great Lent, 40 days of self-examination and feasting (including Sunday), which starts on Clean Monday and culminates on Lazarus Saturday. Clean Monday falls seven weeks before Easter Sunday. The term "Clean Monday" refers to cleaning from sinful attitudes through the Lenten fast. The early church fathers likened the Lenten fast to a spiritual journey of the soul through the wilderness of the world. The spiritual fast is designed to strengthen the inner life of the worshipper by weakening the attractions of the flesh and drawing the individual closer to God.  Many Eastern churches observe the Lenten fast with considerable strictness, meaning no meat is consumed, nor any animal products (eggs, milk, butter, cheese), and fish only are consumed on certain days.

Lazarus Saturday occurs eight days before Easter Sunday and signifies the end of Great Lent. Next comes Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, commemorating the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, followed by Holy Week which ends on Easter Sunday, or Pascha. Fasting continues throughout the Holy Week. Many Eastern Orthodox churches observe a Pascha Vigil which ends just before midnight  on Holy Saturday (or Great Saturday), the last day of Holy Week on the evening before Easter. During the Easter Vigil Services, a series of 15 Old Testament readings begins with these words, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," often Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Saturday evening with a candlelight procession outside the church. Immediately following the Paschal Vigil, Easter festivities begin with Paschal Matins at midnight, Paschal Hours, and the Paschal Divine Liturgy. Paschal Matins is an early morning prayer service, or in some traditions, part of an all-night prayer vigil. It usually begins with the tolling of bells. The whole congregation exchanges a "kiss of peace" at the end of the Paschal Matins. The kissing custom is based on the following scriptures: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; and 1 Peter 5:15.  Paschal Hours is a brief, chanted prayer service reflecting the joy of Easter and Paschal Divine Liturgy is a communion or Eucharist service. These are the first celebrations of Christ's resurrection and are considered the most important services of the ecclesiastical year. After the Eucharist service, the fast is broken, and the feasting begins.

Orthodox Easter day is celebrated with great joy. It is customary among Orthodox Christians to greet one another during the Easter season with the Paschal greeting. The salutation begins with the phrase; "He is Risen!" The response is "Truly, He is Risen!" The phrase "Christos Anesti" is Greek for "He is Risen!" It is also a title of a traditional Orthodox Easter hymn during Easter services in celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection. In Orthodox tradition, eggs are a symbol of  a new life. Early Christians used eggs to symbolise the resurrection of Jesus Chris and the regeneration of believers. At Easter, eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus that was shed on the Cross for the redemption of all men. Greek Orthodox Christians traditionally break the Lenten fast after the midnight Resurrection Service. Customary foods are a lamb and Tsoureki Paschalino, and a sweet Easter dessert bread. Serbian Orthodox families traditionally begin the feasting after Easter Sunday services. They enjoy appetizers of smoked meats and cheeses, boiled eggs and red wine. The meal consists of chicken noodle or lamb  vegetable soup followed by spit-roasted lamb. 

Holy Saturday is a day of strict fasting for Russians and Orthodox Christians, while families stay busy making preparations for the Easter meals. Usually, the Lenten fast is broken after the midnight mass with traditional Paska Easter cake. 

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Sunday, April 16th 2023.


Orthodox Easter

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