Now for a limited time: FREE GIFT to New Subscribers!       
Sep/Oct 2014 Current Moscow Time: 17:26:16
16 September 2014


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Russian Pascha

by Linda DeLaine
Russian Pascha

Pascha (or Paskha) is the highest celebration of the Orthodox Church. Russian Orthodox churches herald in the glorious event with a service, beginning at midnight on Pascha Sunday. After the service, proclaiming Christ's Resurrection, Easter baskets are blessed and shared. This signifies the end of the Great Lent, a forty day period of fasting.

Holiday fare includes paska, which is adorned with crosses made of raisins. The Paska is served with Easter sweet bread, or kulich, which is accompanied by vivid red colored hard boiled eggs. Red is symbolic of Easter and beauty.

The main course of the traditional Pascha dinner is lamb or ham. Easter is a holiday for visiting friends and relatives. The traditional greeting is, Christ is risen, to which one would respond, Christ is truly risen.

Maslenitsa
The old Russian tradition of Maslenitsa precedes the Great Fast (Lent, in the West). It is eight days of eating, drinking, making merry and a carnival like atmosphere similar to Mardi Gras. Know also as Butter Week, this period is characterized by mass consumption of blini.

The Great Fast
After Maslenitsa, the Great Fast commences. This is a mandatory fast of 40 days during which no animal products may be eaten. This includes red meat, fish, poultry, milk,cheese, eggs, butter, etc. In other words, this is a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, beans and grains. Entertainment is also forbidden with the exception of cultural and religious concerts and singing. As Palm Sunday approaches, a sense of anticipation and joy breaks through the long days of fasting. This typically corresponds with the first signs of spring and flowers, toys, confections, etc. are sold in the markets.

Easter eggs are a major part of the Russian Easter celebration. As in pagan times, the egg symbolizes life and, to Christians, Salvation and Christ's Resurrection. Red dyed eggs are given to everyone as a gesture of love and wish for a good life. The hard boiled eggs are eaten and used in the traditional Easter bread (another great recipe).

During the Imperial days, the royal family would give colored and richly decorated eggs to the boyars and the nobility. In addition to chicken eggs, the practice of adorning wooden eggs began and became a part of Russian decorative and applied arts in its own right.

Pascha
Russian Orthodox Pascha Sunday falls a week after Jewish Passover. This is a time of literal and spiritual cleansing. Spring cleaning and household repairs are accomplished and everyone looks forward to the traditional Easter feast. Holy Week, the week between the Palm Sunday celebration and the Saturday just prior to Pascha, is a time of fasting, reflection and repentance. Good Friday, like elsewhere in the world, is the most somber day of this week.

Pascha vigil, Saturday night, features a liturgy which climaxes at midnight. At this time, the darkened church is brought to life by the lighting of countless candles, church bells toll and the faithful pour out of the church, singing and praising Christ. Now, the feast begins! All kinds of meat; primarily ham and lamb; kulich, cakes, sweets - everything forbidden during the Great Fast is present on virtually every household table.

September 1, 2014
For Better or Worse
For Better or Worse

What with downed passenger airlines, war in Ukraine, trade embargos and rapidly worsening US-Russian relations, why in the world is there a picture of a giraffe on the cover of Russian Life magazine? 

Read More
Tags: war, Ukraine, animals
Rating: Zero stars
September 1, 2014
The Many Days of September 1
The Many Days of September 1

Did you know September 1 is more than just Labor Day? Read on to find out how Russians celebrate September 1, the Day of Knowledge, the first day of school.

Read More
Tags: education, school, russia, holidays
Rating: Zero stars
August 14, 2014
1741: The Year Russia Discovered America
1741: The Year Russia Discovered America

You probably know that Alaska was bought from Russia well over 100 years ago. But do you know how Russia came to lay claim to the territory in the first place? Hint: they were after furs.

Read More
Tags: russia, united states, alaska, colonization
Rating: Zero stars
August 1, 2014
Enhanced Interrogation, Soviet Style
Enhanced Interrogation, Soviet Style

A third excerpt from Alexei Bayer's mystery novel Murder at the Dacha. Inspector Matushkin visits a suburban police station and witnesses some "enhanced interrogation techniques" gone wrong.

Read More
Rating: Zero stars
July 30, 2014
Tsarevich Alexei and the Worst 10th Birthday Ever
Tsarevich Alexei and the Worst 10th Birthday Ever

Late July and early August were busy times in 1914: not only was Russia's own heir apparent celebrating his 10th birthday, the world was devolving into the military chaos of World War I.
 

Read More
Tags: romanov, romanovs, alexei, rasputin, world war i, russia, russian empire, tsarism
Rating: Zero stars

Rate this