Easter, Holy Pascha


Easter, is considered the holiest of holidays, and is celebrated from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. A seven-week Lenten period is observed, also without fish, meat, eggs, milk, or dairy products, which is practiced today in altered fashion as well. Vrbica, or Palm Sunday, is observed on the last Sunday before Easter when the willow branches are blessed and distributed to all present. This service is rendered especially beautiful and significant by the presence of children, dressed in fine new clothes worn for the first time, with little bells hanging from their necks on ribbons—waiting for the whole congregation to start an outside procession encircling the church three times. Easter celebrations cannot be conceived without roasted lamb and colored eggs. The eggs symbolize spring and the renewal of the life cycle as well as Vaskrsenje, the Easter Resurrection. Each color as well as each design has a specific meaning in this age old folk art form of egg decorating. The Easter Mass is the most splendid one. The doors of the iconostasis, which remained closed until the symbolic moment of Hristovo Voskresenje, or "Christ's Resurrection," open wide; the church bells ring, and the priest dressed in his gold vestments steps forward. The congregation sings a hymn of rejoicing, and a procession led by the banner of Resurrection encircles the church three times while the worshippers carry lit candles. The greetings Hristos voskrese, "Christ has risen," and Vaistinu voskrese, "He has risen indeed," are exchanged three times. All true believers rejoice on this day of redemption by the great revelation of God's truth and life eternal in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. The Resurrection of Christ the Redeemer is the completion of the Great Work for the redemption of mankind from enslavement to Satan and corruption; the power of sin is destroyed and Death itself is abolished. The Resurrection of Christ grants every one the right to call himself a child of God; it is the return of Paradise lost, the threshold of the Holy of Holies of immortal life and communion with God. St. Paul tells us that if there had been no Resurrection then our Christian faith would have been deprived of any foundation or value. But Christ is risen; He rose the First among the sons of earth, and thus manifested His Might and His Divine Power.

Source:Church Calender