Easter 2021: History and traditions of holiday

Source : 112 Ukraine

Today, Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter; we tell you how Ukrainians will spend this important holiday in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic
08:30, 2 May 2021

112 Agency

Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter today, on May 2. It is the most important holy day, the Resurrection Sunday. It commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Great Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Date of Easter

Every year the date of the celebration changes. It is calculated on a lunisolar calendar with the help of the special table – the Alexandrian computes.

The holiday is celebrated on Sunday, after the vernal equinox. Besides, it cannot be celebrated earlier than the Jewish holiday Pesach because according to the scripture, Jesus was crucified after it.

The range of the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus in different years varies from April 4 up to May 8. The other moveable religious holidays depend on the date of Easter. 

The Orthodox Christians and Catholics celebrate Easter on different days as these churches hold chronology on different calendars. In 2021, Catholics celebrated Easter on April 4.

Symbols of Easter

Easter egg is one of the most ancient symbols of fertility and rebirth as well as the resurrection of Jesus.

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According to legend, the first Easter egg was gifted by Mary Magdalene to Rome emperor Tiberius.

She came to the palace to bring good news but the emperor did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus and said that it is akin if a white egg will accidentally turn into a red one. After his words, the egg became red symbolizing the blood of Jesus spilling on the cross.

Thus, the Easter tradition to pain eggs appeared. It is used to call them krashanky. Such an egg is a talisman and protective amulet of the family.

Lamb of God is the symbol of the great sacrifice of Jesus for humanity. In western Europe it often depicted on the Easter postcards: lamb, cross and sign in Latin – Agnus Dei. In Ukraine, people bake a tiny figure of lamb from the dough and decorate the holiday table with it.

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Kulich (Easter cake) along with eggs are the most important symbols of the holiday. It is believed that artos, the bread blessed on the first day of the holiday, is the prototype of kulich.

Kulichi mean that the doors of the house, where they put on the table, are always open for Jesus.

Holy Fire symbolizes the Light of God, which enlightens all people after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

People expect it at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In case of a successful occurrence, the priests take it to all churches. The Christians light their candles from it.

Easter tree symbolizes Tree of life, Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which are situated in the Garden of Eden.

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In Ukraine, it is traditionally made from willow branches, which are decorated with multicolored ribbons, krashanky, pysanka, and feathers of birds.

Easter at the height of Covid-19 pandemic

On Easter, it is usual to visit the church and bless the food. It is not clear how it will take place in terms of the fight against coronavirus. However, it is not planned to close churches during the holidays.

Health Minister Maxim Stepanov
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The Ukrainian Health Ministry has discussed the quarantine during Easter with the Council of Churches and religious organizations and published a number of recommendations.

  1. The visit to public places should take place only with the wearing of a mask outside and inside the church.
  2. It is necessary to observe a 1.5-meter distance between people.
  3. It is established that only a person for every four square meters can stay inside the church.
  4. The Health Ministry asks to encourage online divine services, increase the number of entrances, and reduce the duration of services.
  5. It is recommended to set doors of the churches to provide the air exchange inside the building.
  6. The parish recommended sending one person from the household to bless paska (Easter bread) and exclude family visits.
  7. It is recommended to restrain from festive visiting of relatives and friends not to endanger each other, especially aged relatives.
  8. The physical contact during the ceremonies – venerating to icons, crosses, sacraments.

Health Minister Maksym Stepanov has urged Ukrainians to avoid gathering on Easter and do not bless Easter bread.

“If you do not bless paska, the God will definitely forgive you but Covid-19 is atheist and it will use it anyway. Possibly, there is no need to come to such gathering to endanger yourself”.

The minister has urged the Ukrainians to treat their health and lives, as well as the lives of their relatives maximally responsible. He added that “knowing the Ukrainians, we can get the increase of the Covid-19 incidence after May holidays and Easter”.

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