The Resurrection: Orthodox Easter Meaning and Traditions

The Resurrection: Orthodox Easter Meaning and Traditions

One of the biggest Orthodox Christian holidays is coming! This year, Orthodox Easter is falling on April 16. It is the day that millions of people around the world will celebrate with their families and loved ones. But what is the true Orthodox Easter meaning, and what are the traditions and symbols associated with this holiday? Let’s find it out.

The Resurrection: Orthodox Easter meaning and traditions

Easter is revered by most Christian confessions, even though the dates and things people do to celebrate the holiday sometimes differ. The day of Easter moves each year, as it is connected to the Lunar calendar. One thing stays the same — it always happens on Sunday. In some languages, the name for the last day of the week directly refers to Christ rising from the tomb: for example, in Russian, “voskresenie” literally means “resurrection.”

What is the true Orthodox Easter meaning? It is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after His crucifixion. It is meant to signify the victory of life over death and good over evil. Some Orthodox Christians fast for 48 days before the holiday — this period between Maslenitsa (a holiday with pagan roots) and Easter is known as the Great Fast. When breaking it, Orthodox believers traditionally eat eggs and sweet Easter bread.

Eggs are actually an important part of the Easter day tradition; they are viewed as a symbol of life appearing out of the depths of a tomb in which Jesus was buried. Usually, hard-boiled eggs are painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Children may also paint and decorate boiled eggs with different colors as a fun holiday activity.

Orthodox Christian believers pay special attention to the Easter dinner menu, as this day is the first day after the fasting is over. Apart from various dishes that include ingredients prohibited during the Great Fast, a kulich, which is a type of tall sweet bread decorated with icing and various toppings, is the highlight of the festive table.

Religious art also reminds us of the Orthodox Easter meaning: the scene of the Resurrection is one of the most popular scenes in Orthodox iconography. The image of the “Resurrection” is usually placed in the center of a more complex icon, but it can also be used as a separate image. What is interesting about them is that such icons do not always depict the rising of Jesus Christ: instead, they feature the scene called “the Harrowing of Hades” to commemorate the event that happened the day before the Resurrection when Christ brought salvation to the souls trapped in the world of the dead. You can see this scene in many antique icons from our collection.