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Author Topic: Pascha or Orthodox 'Easter'  (Read 559 times)

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Offline SilverTopic starter

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Pascha or Orthodox 'Easter'
« on: April 17, 2009, 11:46:35 AM »
I just wanted to take a moment and actually answer a few questions that I've been getting these past few days, about Pascha(Easter) and why is it so late. Along with the ever burning question about the 'Red Eggs'. So I thought I would share on Great and Holy Friday for me, please read and enjoy. (more may be added later or if you want to know more about something just ask and I can post it up)

*curtsies*


Differences in dates between Western and Eastern Christianity:

The Eastern and Western Christian churches calculate Pascha using two different calendars (Julian and Gregorian, respectively); hence in most years Easter is celebrated on a different date in the East and the West.

Proposals to resolve the second problem have made greater progress, but they are yet to be adopted. The World Council of Churches proposed a reform of the method of determining the date of Easter at a summit in Aleppo, Syria, in 1997[2]: Easter would be defined as the first Sunday following the first astronomical full moon following the astronomical vernal equinox, as determined from the meridian of Jerusalem. The reform would have been implemented starting in 2001, since in that year the Eastern and Western dates of Easter would coincide.

This reform has not been implemented. It would have relied mainly on the co-operation of the Eastern Orthodox Church, since the date of Pascha (Easter) would change for them immediately; whereas for the Western churches the new system would not differ from that currently in use until 2019. However, Eastern Orthodox support was not forthcoming, and the reform failed. The much greater impact that this reform would have had on the Eastern churches in comparison with those of the West led some Orthodox to suspect that the WCC's decision was an attempt by the West to impose its viewpoint unilaterally on the rest of the world under the guise of ecumenism.

A virtually identical astronomical rule for Easter was proposed by the 1923 synod that also proposed the Revised Julian calendar: Easter was to be the Sunday after the midnight-to-midnight day at the meridian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (35°13'46"E or UT+2h20m55s for the large dome) during which the first full moon after the vernal equinox occurs. [3][4] Although the instant of the full moon must occur after the instant of the vernal equinox, it may occur on the same day. If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter is the following Sunday. Although the Revised Julian calendar was adopted by many Orthodox Churches, all rejected the astronomical rule for Easter and continue to use the Julian calendar to determine the date of Easter (except for the Finnish Orthodox Church, which now uses the Gregorian Easter).



Pascha (Easter as everyone else in Western Christianity calls it) :

Pascha is the fundamental and most important festival of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Every other religious festival on their calendars, including Christmas, is secondary in importance to the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is reflected in rich Paschal customs in the cultures of countries that have traditionally had an Orthodox Christian majority. Eastern Catholics have similar emphasis in their calendars, and many of their liturgical customs are very similar. This is not to say that Christmas and other elements of the Christian liturgical calendar are ignored. Instead, these events are all seen as necessary but preliminary to, and illuminated by, the full climax of the Resurrection, in which all that has come before reaches fulfilment and fruition. They shine only in the light of the Resurrection. Pascha (Easter) is the primary act that fulfills the purpose of Christ's ministry on earth—to defeat death by dying and to purify and exalt humanity by voluntarily assuming and overcoming human frailty. This is succinctly summarized by the Paschal troparion, sung repeatedly during Pascha until the Apodosis of Pascha, which is the day before Ascension:

        Χριστός Ανέστη εκ νεκρών,
        Θανάτω, θάνατον πατήσας,
        και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι
        ζώην χαρισάμενος!

        Christ is risen from the dead,
        Trampling down death by death,
        And upon those in the tombs
        Bestowing life!


Preparation for Pascha begins with the season of Great Lent. In addition to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, Orthodox Christians cut down on all entertainment and non-essential worldly activities, gradually eliminating them until Great and Holy Friday, the most austere day of the year. Traditionally, on the evening of Great and Holy Saturday, the Midnight Office is celebrated shortly after 11:00 p.m. (see Paschal Vigil). At its completion all light in the church building is extinguished, and all wait in darkness and silence for the stroke of midnight. Then, a new flame is struck in the altar, or the priest lights his candle from the perpetual lamp kept burning there, and he then lights candles held by deacons or other assistants, who then go to light candles held by the congregation (this practice has its origin in the reception of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem). Then the priest and congregation go in a Crucession (procession with the cross) around the temple (church building), holding lit candles, chanting:

    Angels in heaven, O Christ our Saviour, praise Thy Resurrection with hymns:
    deem us also who are on earth worthy to glorify The with a pure heart.

This procession reenacts the journey of the Myrrhbearers to the Tomb of Jesus "very early in the morning" (Luke 24:1). After circling around the temple once or three times, the procession halts in front of the closed doors. In the Greek practice the priest reads a selection from the Gospel Book (Mark 16:1-8). Then, in all traditions, the priest makes the sign of the cross with the censer in front of the closed doors (which represent the sealed tomb). He and the people chant the Paschal Troparion, and all of the bells and semantra are sounded. Then all re-enter the temple and Paschal Matins begins immediately, followed by the Paschal Hours and then the Paschal Divine Liturgy. After the dismissal of the Liturgy, the priest may bless Paschal eggs and baskets brought by the faithful containing those foods which have been forbidden during the Great Fast.

Immediately after the Liturgy it is customary for the congregation to share a meal, essentially an Agápē dinner (albeit at 2:00 a.m. or later). In Greece the traditional meal is mageiritsa, a hearty stew of chopped lamb liver and wild greens seasoned with egg-and-lemon sauce. Traditionally, Easter eggs, hard-boiled eggs dyed bright red to symbolize the spilt Blood of Christ and the promise of eternal life, are cracked together to celebrate the opening of the Tomb of Christ.

The next morning, Easter Sunday proper, there is no Divine Liturgy, since the Liturgy for that day has already been celebrated. Instead, in the afternoon, it is often traditional to celebrate "Agápē Vespers". In this service, it has become customary during the last few centuries for the priest and members of the congregation to read a portion of the Gospel of John 20:19-25 (in some places the reading is extended to include verses 19:26-31) in as many languages as they can manage, to show the universality of the Resurrection.

For the remainder of the week, known as "Bright Week", all fasting is prohibited, and the customary Paschal greeting is: "Christ is risen!," to which the response is: "Truly He is risen!" This may also be done in many different languages. The services during Bright Week are nearly identical to those on Pascha itself, except that the do not take place at midnight, but at their normal times during the day. The Crucession during Bright Week takes place either after Paschal Matins or the Paschal Divine Liturgy.


The Red Eggs:

The egg is seen as symbolic of the grave and life renewed or resurrected by breaking out of it. The red supposedly symbolizes the blood of Christ redeeming the world and human redemption through the blood shed in the sacrifice of the crucifixion. The egg itself is a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it.

For Orthodox Christians, the Easter egg is much more than a celebration of the ending of the fast, it is a declaration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Traditionally, Orthodox Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed Tomb of Christ—the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead.

In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal Vigil, and distributed to the faithful. Each household also brings an Easter basket to church, filled not only with Easter eggs but also with other Paschal foods such as paskha, kulich or Easter breads, and these are blessed by the priest as well.


Paschal Greeting:

The Paschal greeting is an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, as well as among several Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. Instead of "hello" or its equivalent, one is to greet another person with "Christ is Risen!", and the response is "Truly, He is Risen" (compare Matthew 27:64, Matthew 28:6-7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, Luke 24:34).

In some cultures, e.g., in Russia, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss on the alternating cheeks after the greeting. (We do it here in the states and in almost all Orthodox Churches and Monasteries, or at least the ones I've been to so far in my lifetime.)

It is not uncommon for Orthodox Christians to compile lists of the greeting as it is used around the world, as an act of Orthodox unity across languages and cultures.


Here are the ones that I myself remember and know.

English - Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! or Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
French - Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!
Spanish - ¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!
Greek - Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! (Khristós Anésti! Alithós Anésti!) (I've known that one since I was five)
Russian - Христос воскресе! Воистину воскресе! (Christos voskres! Voistinu voskres!)
Serbian - Христос васкрсе! Ваистину васкрсе! (Hristos vaskrse! Vaistinu vaskrse!)

Offline Oniya

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Re: Pascha or Orthodox 'Easter'
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 11:52:26 AM »
Interesting to learn that my family's tradition of 'egg wars' has a deeper symbolism (although I seriously doubt that any of them know where it's from).

Offline SilverTopic starter

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Re: Pascha or Orthodox 'Easter'
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 12:00:44 PM »
*can't help but laugh*

I did the egg wars when young, using the tip to break everyone's eggs but my own.

But now normally one crack and told that I have to soft and open of a heart.

Offline ShrowdedPoet

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Re: Pascha or Orthodox 'Easter'
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2009, 04:26:27 PM »
Ostara (Pegan Easter) ever wonder about eggs and bunnies?  I have the answers. . .*laughs* 

Offline The Dark Raven

Re: Pascha or Orthodox 'Easter'
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2009, 01:14:19 PM »
<snip>
Paschal Greeting:

The Paschal greeting is an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, as well as among several Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. Instead of "hello" or its equivalent, one is to greet another person with "Christ is Risen!", and the response is "Truly, He is Risen" (compare Matthew 27:64, Matthew 28:6-7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, Luke 24:34).

In some cultures, e.g., in Russia, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss on the alternating cheeks after the greeting. (We do it here in the states and in almost all Orthodox Churches and Monasteries, or at least the ones I've been to so far in my lifetime.)

It is not uncommon for Orthodox Christians to compile lists of the greeting as it is used around the world, as an act of Orthodox unity across languages and cultures.


Here are the ones that I myself remember and know.

English - Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! or Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
French - Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!
Spanish - ¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!
Greek - Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! (Khristós Anésti! Alithós Anésti!) (I've known that one since I was five)
Russian - Христос воскресе! Воистину воскресе! (Christos voskres! Voistinu voskres!)
Serbian - Христос васкрсе! Ваистину васкрсе! (Hristos vaskrse! Vaistinu vaskrse!)

Silver,

Thank you for posting this! 

I wanted to add that I was pleasantly surprised to know where my Baptist preacher found this.  This is our traditional Easter greeting (at the beginning and end of Easter service), and I had always thought it so uplifting once I started going to that church.  It is, I think, limited to our congregation where i live, and is not widely used in the city where I live.

I am happy to know that if I were to beg my way into a Pascha service at the Greek Orthodox Church (Holy Trinity Holy Cross) downtown I would be hearing the same wonderful words.

*hugs*