History and traditions of celebrating Easter

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History and traditions of celebrating Easter
History and traditions of celebrating Easter

History of the origin of Easter. Methods for calculating the date of the holiday. Interesting Easter customs of different peoples of the world and traditional dishes.

The story of Easter is not just a story of a religious holiday. This is an ancient story, rooted in the era when the New Testament was not yet written, Jesus Christ did not appear in the world, and they did not even hear about Christianity either in Russia or in any other corner of the world.

History of the origin of Easter

Easter story

If you skim through the Holy Scriptures, you can find a fact that surprises readers who are not familiar with the Bible: and the history of the Easter holiday and all the events preceding it began with the fact that Jesus came to Jerusalem for the holiday … Easter! How so? Did Bright Sunday really exist before Calvary, the crucifixion and the appearance of the risen Savior to the disciples?

To some extent, yes. The holiday existed, and it began as much as 13 centuries before the birth of Christ, although in those distant times no one called this day the Resurrection. It was called Passover, which some scholars translate as "deliverance", fell on the 14th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, lasted 7-8 days and was established in memory of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt under the leadership of the prophet Moses.

The celebration of Passover-Passover was of great religious importance, and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem was one of its most widespread customs. So there is nothing surprising in Jesus' desire to visit the holy city:

  • firstly, it was quite in keeping with tradition;
  • secondly, there was a prophecy according to which the Messiah was to appear to the Jewish people on the eve of Passover.

Is it surprising that at the entrance to the city, Christ was greeted with chants and palm branches - a symbol of triumph, the role of which later, in the tradition of celebrating Easter in Russia, shifted to thin twigs of willow? Many of the locals have already seen the promised Savior in the glorified preacher!

According to another version, the word "Passover" meant "To pass by" and also served as a reference to the time of Moses, when the wrath of God bypassed the houses of the Jews, marked with the blood of the sacrificial lamb, but struck all the firstborn of the Egyptians with death.

Be that as it may, the history of the origin of Passover is inextricably linked with the Jewish Passover and the arrival of the Savior with the disciples in Jerusalem. However, instead of breaking the matzo on Friday, like the rest of the Jews, and eating a lamb (a type of the same lamb), Jesus gathered his followers for the Last Supper on Thursday, where he first established the sacrament of the Eucharist, thus initiating a new holiday with a completely different meaning.

In those days, which happened almost 2000 years ago, the first traditions of Easter began to take shape, this time Christian:

  • Maundy Thursday, on the night of which the famous prayer was sounded in the Garden of Gethsemane, became a day of great preparation for the upcoming celebration and tuning your soul in a certain way.
  • Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion and death of the Savior on the cross, has gained a reputation as the most severe period of Lent and the hardest day of the year. At this time, many believers, as a sign of their grief, completely refuse to take food and water.
  • Saturday, the day of Christ's descent into hell, began to be devoted to the final preparations for the holiday.
  • And, finally, the Bright Resurrection itself acquired its name in memory of the miraculous resurrection of Jesus.

Get attention! Although the history of the origin of Easter began with Passover, it is fundamentally wrong to consider both holidays to be identical. These are completely different religious dates, dedicated to different events and carrying a different message.

Easter celebration date

Easter celebration date

The early Christians did not have a coherent system for determining the time of the celebration of Easter.Some, in order not to break the established traditions, combined it with Passover. Others appointed the first spring month on different dates. And some considered every Friday in the year to be Passionate, and every Sunday to be Easter.

The end of the confusion was put in 325 at the first Council of Nicaea, whose members established a number of rules:

  • celebrate Christian Easter not earlier than Jewish;
  • celebrate it after the vernal equinox and the following full moon;
  • make sure the date selection always falls on Sunday.

Since then, for 1695 years now, the days of the celebration of Easter have been calculated according to a single, once established algorithm.

4 ways to find out the date of Easter:

  1. For the lazy: look at the church calendar… If you don't feel like wasting time on boring calculations, just take into account the fact that in 2020 the celebration of Easter falls on April 19.
  2. For the curious: do addition… Find Shrove Tuesday in the calendar, count 40 days of Great Lent from it, 2 holidays - Azure Saturday and Palm Sunday, add 6 days of Holy Week and safely circle the resulting date in red. For example, in 2020 Maslenitsa was celebrated on March 1. We add 48 days and get the 49th - April 19.
  3. For astronomers: refer to the lunar calendar… Remember that the vernal equinox falls on March 21st, and find the closest full moon after that date (April 8th), followed by the closest Sunday (April 12th). It would seem that there is a discrepancy, there is Sunday, but Easter is not? Nothing like this. The fact is that in 2020 Passover will last from April 8 to April 16, and as we remember, the Council of Nicaea decided to wait for its end. So, according to the calendar of Easter celebrations, Bright Sunday in 2020 shifts another week forward and again falls on April 19.
  4. For mathematicians: tackle the math… We will not give here a complex and long formula for calculations, but if you are clicking on math problems like nuts and are not averse to arranging a little workout for your brain, find the formula for calculating the date of Easter by Karl Gauss, and then divide, add and subtract as you please.

Note! Due to the fact that the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, and the Catholic Church uses the Gregorian calendar, confusion often arises in the dates. So, the celebration of Easter in 2020 for the Catholic world will happen a week earlier - on April 12.

Common Christian Easter traditions

Easter traditions

Time passed. Ecumenical councils replaced each other, laws were adopted, old pagan customs, gradually yielding to the pressure of the new faith, were imperceptibly woven into its postulates. And the Christian world itself was in a fever from great and small schisms. And yet, many traditions have managed to survive in more or less unchanged form to this day for all who profess faith in Christ.

Common Christian traditions and customs of Easter:

  • Great Lent preceding the holiday… True, for Catholics it begins not on Monday, but on Ash Wednesday, lasts 40 days instead of 48 and does not include Sundays, and in general it is less strict, but these are details. The main thing is that deep spiritual preparation for the Easter holiday is considered mandatory for all Christians.
  • Cleaning and preparation of festive meals… It is supposed to celebrate Bright Sunday in a clean scrubbed house at a generously set table, gathering around as many relatives as possible. And since the family traditions of Easter are given great importance in both denominations, both Orthodox and Catholic housewives spend a lot of energy on preparing for the feast.
  • Descent of the Holy Fire on Holy Saturday… The entire Christian world awaits this event with trepidation and rejoices in it, regardless of the intricacies of religion.
  • Solemn church services… The Orthodox Easter service differs from the Catholic Trinity, but on the whole the meaning remains the same: to give praise to God, to proclaim the coming of a miracle to the world, and to allow believers to feel themselves as one in their joy.
  • Painted eggs… Among all the traditions of Easter, dyed eggs take a special place. On this day, multi-colored shells can be found in the home of almost any Christian. And of course, they are brought to the church en masse - to consecrate them.

History (at least the official one) is silent about the origin of the original custom of painting eggs for Easter.It is only known that it appeared many years after the Resurrection of Christ, therefore, the version of Mary Magdalene, who presented the emperor Tiberius with an egg that turned red after the ruler's mocking words that the dead cannot be resurrected, as the shell is not able to turn red, most likely not more than a beautiful legend.

There is also a more mundane version that the eggs were dyed in different colors to indicate their "expiration date". It was impossible to eat a product of animal origin during the fast, but the multi-colored markers helped to navigate in the stocks accumulated for Easter, separating fresh eggs from lying ones. The only thing is that the staining was hardly done by boiling, since a raw egg can easily be stored for 2-3 weeks, while a boiled egg is only 2-3 days.

Features of the celebration of Bright Sunday in Russia

Celebrating Easter in Russia

Easter traditions in Russia are largely original, although they follow the generally accepted outline. Like most believers in other countries, we also try not to swear on this day, put on new beautiful clothes and paint eggs.

But the famous couple of the main Russian attributes of the "Curd Easter-Kulich" holiday in the history of Bright Sunday in Europe or America is practically unknown. And if you can still find an alternative to a curd delicacy on the tables of Christian neighbors, then Easter cake is a unique phenomenon. The Slavs knew him at a time when our ancestors knew absolutely nothing about the new faith, and the celebration of Easter in Russia was reduced to honoring the cycle of life, reviving nature and the cult of ancestors. Actually, the word "Easter" did not exist in those days either, but the cake was already there.

Lush, tall, kneaded by the hostess in solemn silence, without any haste or bad thought, he was supposed to provide the family with prosperity for a whole year, the field - the harvest, and the cattle - fertility. With the advent of Christianity to Russia, the history of the traditions of Easter began a new countdown, but the cake migrated to it, practically unchanged. It was also ceremoniously kneaded, baked with prayer, and high hopes were placed on the magnificent delicacy.

Another Russian tradition of Easter, which is poorly informed in Catholic countries, is Christians - a festive greeting with three kisses. In some areas of Europe, you can find something similar, but most likely your attempt to kiss someone as a sign of joy will be misunderstood there.

And what about funny games with dyes? In the history of Easter, eggs play a special role, but fighting them with each other, checking who will be more fortunate and fall into the favorites of fate in the coming year, is inherent only to the descendants of the Slavic peoples. In Europe and America, motley testicles are either hidden in the grass so that later children can start a fun hunt for them, or they are allowed to race down the slides. By the way, fun with "rolling eggs" was also loved in Russia, and even before Christianity. In recent years, zealots of folk traditions have been actively trying to revive it.

Other features of the celebration of Easter in Russia:

  • make cherished wishes before the dawn sun, during the service or under the gospel;
  • there are eggs laid by chickens on Maundy Thursday to get rid of diseases;
  • wash with water, in which the dyes were previously lying, in order to preserve their beauty.

Note! Bright Easter week lasts 7 days, but the Easter holiday itself lasts 40 days - exactly as long as Jesus was on earth between his Resurrection and Ascension.

Customs of other countries

Celebrating Easter in other countries

Almost every nation has its own curious traditions of celebrating the Bright holiday:

  1. Greece… During the service, a terrible roar is heard. As soon as the priest reading the Gospel comes to the lines about the resurrection of Christ, the parishioners begin to knock on the seats of the benches, depicting the earthquake that occurred at that moment in Jerusalem.
  2. Belgium… Silence reigns throughout Holy Week due to the silent church bells. This is explained to children and naive tourists as follows: they say, the bells went straight to Rome for the Easter Bunny and painted eggs.
  3. Bulgaria… Here, clay pots with good wishes written on them are pounded merrily. It is believed that picking up a shard from such a pot, broken by a stranger, is for luck.
  4. Germany… The country organizes luxurious horse parades and decorates Easter trees thickly covered with colorful eggs.
  5. Australia… An annual balloon festival is held here, which they try to coincide with Easter Sunday.

In many countries - Ukraine, Poland, the same Bulgaria - one of the obligatory traditions of the Easter holiday is pouring water on each other. Guys throw out full buckets on the girls they like, friends wish each other health in such an original way, and passers-by who accidentally get into the shower get a charge of cheerfulness and good mood. After all, you cannot take offense at the old custom!

Note! In Europe and America, the main hero of the holiday is the Easter Bunny, almost unknown in Russia. According to legend, it is he who lays chocolate eggs in the garden, which the children then look for.

Traditional food for Easter

What to cook for Easter

For every believing family, Easter traditions provide for a fun feast with loved ones. And what exactly ends up on the table depends on the customs of the country.

Easter Treats:

  1. It goes without saying that in Russia things are not complete without a cake with a white frosting hat and Easter cottage cheese with raisins and candied fruits.
  2. In Romania, the cake was called a kozunak, they gave it a different shape and came up with a variety of delicacies from dried fruits to fruit puree.
  3. The Italian kulich kulich resembles a very conventional pigeon outlines. Inside, it hides cream, chocolate or other filling, and on the outside it pleases the eye with glaze with almond petals.
  4. The Spaniards have a simpler approach. Torrijas, soaked in wine or milk with spices and fried in a pan, became their favorite sweet Easter dish long ago. Moreover, they eat torrijas throughout Holy Week until the date of the celebration of Easter.
  5. In Poland, they selflessly enjoy a shortbread cake called mazurka. Inside it has a delicate filling of plums, apples or citrus fruits with chopped nuts, and outside - deposits of white powdered sugar.
  6. The French prefer rosy chicken cooked with Provencal herbs, beans and potatoes to sweets.
  7. In Greece, they break the fast with a rich soup of lamb giblets, herbs and lemon dressing.
  8. In Germany, most of the lambs remain unharmed, since their place on the table is taken by a sweet cake in the form of a sacrificial lamb. And he is accompanied by long-eared cookies and chocolate bunnies.
  9. In Malta, funny figolli figurines are baked from shortcrust pastry. They are stuffed with marzipans and richly decorated.
  10. Lebanese friable Maamul biscuits are made from semolina or semolina, stuffed with dates or other dried fruits and eaten with tea.
  11. The Finns are the most original. Their main festive dish was not meat or sweet pastries, but mämmi porridge made from rye flour and malt. It is cooked in the oven for several hours and then eaten with heavy cream. True gourmets add vanilla ice cream.

How Easter is celebrated - watch the video:

The time of Easter is approaching - a joyful, jubilant holiday; each year bringing to the world renewed hope for salvation and eternal life. Even unbelieving people often feel better on this day, and it begins to seem that everything will certainly be fine. Try to capture the spirit of the holiday and keep it in yourself - and then who knows what miracles you will be capable of over the next 12 months? It is not for nothing that they say that dreams made for Easter come true.

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