Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter in a variety of ways. In general, the major celebrations include a spit-roast lamb dinner, a midnight service and observance of the Great Lent. Among other traditions, it is customary to have a display of hard-boiled eggs.
Observance of Great Lent
Great Lent is a time of preparation for the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, or Pascha. It is a forty-day period of fasting and self-examination that ends on Lazarus Saturday. In addition, this is a time for the Church to renew its devotion and prayer.
Orthodox Christians celebrate Great Lent with a series of movable feasts. Traditionally, these feasts are celebrated on Sundays, but the exact dates and times may differ from one church to another. Usually, the feast is accompanied by a Lenten service. Some churches, such as the Serbian Orthodox church, begin their Easter celebrations on the day of the feast.
Great Lent is a time of public and private prayer. While the public reading of Scripture increases during this time, most weekday services are lessened in order to focus on solemnity. This includes the use of less oil, fish, and dairy products.
Great Lent begins on Monday. However, it is not mandatory to observe all forty days. Many traditions, including the Eastern Christian church, do not require that any meat be consumed during this time.
Spit-roast lamb dinner
The Orthodox Christian Easter meal is a spit-roast lamb dinner. This is because a spit-roasted lamb is a symbolic representation of Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity. A spit-roast is normally seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.
To prepare a spit-roast, you need to select a tender, medium-rare lamb. It should be about 18 kg. You will need 4 onions and 20 cloves of garlic to make sure the lamb is properly seasoned.
In the early days of Christianity, people ate roasted lamb. Originally, it was served with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. However, it is not uncommon today for the family to pick the crispy skin from the lamb before serving it.
In Greece, a spit-roast can be accompanied by a variety of other foods. There are dishes that include boiled eggs, organ soup, stuffed vine leaves, and Tsoureki Paschalino, a sweet dessert bread.
Traditional Greeks eat spit-roast meat on Easter Sunday, while Russian Orthodox families cook their lamb on Holy Saturday. Serbian Orthodox families also eat spit-roasted lamb, as well as appetizers of smoked meats.
Display of hard-boiled eggs
For Orthodox Christians, Easter is a time of celebration, as it marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eggs are an important symbol for this holiday. In some cultures, red eggs are symbolic of the blood of Christ. They are boiled and dyed on Holy Thursday. The tradition has continued across the world.
Egg decorating is a common tradition that is practiced during the spring equinox. Early Christians used the symbols of eggs as a way to express new life.
Today, the tradition continues in Eastern Europe, where eggs are decorated with elaborate designs. Many modern egg artists use different materials and carving techniques to decorate their eggs.
While eggs have a long association with Easter, the origins of the tradition are a mystery. Some theories place it in the Mediterranean region. Others suggest it may have originated in southern Europe.
As early as the Middle Ages, the practice of decorating and giving eggs as gifts took hold. Decorating eggs is a common practice in churches throughout the Western world.
There are many Orthodox Christian churches around the world that mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ by holding midnight services between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The celebrations vary by church and country, but there is common ground between Eastern and Western traditions.
In Orthodox Christianity, the Resurrection of Christ is a central focus of the faith. Readings during the services focus on prophecies about Christ’s victory over death. Some scriptures include John 20:1-10, Mark 16:1-12, and Luke 24:1-12.
Typically, the service starts before midnight and finishes before 4 a.m. After the service, a procession leads people outside the church. During the procession, people light candles. At the end of the procession, the whole congregation exchanges the “Kiss of Peace.” This ritual is based on Romans 16:16.
Midnight services are typically held in Russian and Serbian Orthodox churches. They also occur in Greek and Ukrainian Orthodox churches.
Pascha (also spelled Pascha) is the name for the festival celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. It is one of the most important festivals of the year. Churches celebrate it as the culmination of the celebrations of the Holy Week.