Thursday , 18 July 2019
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Orthodox Easter

The Last Supper celebrated by Jesus and his disciples. The early Christians, too, would have celebrated this meal to commemorate Jesus' death and subsequent resurrection. Photo: Edal Anton Lefterov

Israel and You greets all of our Orthodox friends and wishes them a happy and healthy Orthodox Easter.

The Easter Acclamation

The Paschal Greeting is an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Christians. In Arabic instead of “hello” a Christian greets another Christian with “Christ is Risen!”, and the response is “Truly, He is Risen.”

المسيح قام! حقا قام!‎ (al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!) or المسيح قام! بالحقيقة قام!‎ (al-Masīḥ qām! Bi-l-ḥaqīqati qām!)

 

Greek Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Religious Observance of Orthodox Easter

Easter is the fundamental and most important festival of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Even Christmas is secondary in importance to the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

[In this video, when she says “holy flame from Jesus’s nativity cave Jerusalem” this is a blooper and should read “holy flame from Jesus’s nativity cave in Bethlehem.”]

 Orthodox Easter Celebration in israel

  • Orthodox and Catholic Christians mark Easter Sunday is marked by masses and solemn processions along the Via Dolorosa marking the Stations of the Cross (Mark 15:16-37) to Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
  • Protestants in Jerusalem flock to the Sunrise Service at the Garden Tomb.

Miracle of the Holy Fire (Holy Light) in Jerusalem

The congregation lighting their candles from the new flame, just as the priest has retrieved it from the altar—note that the picture is flash-illuminated; all electric lighting is off, and only the oil lamps in front of the Iconostasis remain lit. Photo: יוצרMaggas מוויקיפדיה האנגלית
The congregation lighting their candles from the new flame, just as the priest has retrieved it from the altar—note that the picture is flash-illuminated; all electric lighting is off, and only the oil lamps in front of the Iconostasis remain lit.
Photo:
יוצר Maggas מוויקיפדיה האנגלית

Why Orthodox Christian Easter Is Later than the Catholic One

The formula for Easter—”The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox”—is identical for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but the churches base the dates on different calendars.

The two churches vary on the definition of the vernal equinox and the full moon. The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

  • The Christian Orthodox Church continues to follow the Julian calendar when calculating the date of Pascha (Easter). The rest of Christianity uses the Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar being thirteen (13) days behind the Gregorian.
  • The Christian Orthodox Church follows the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in 325 AD, that requires that Pascha must take place after the Jewish Passover in order to maintain the Biblical sequence of Christ’s Passion. So Orthodox Easter always falls after Passover, since the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus took place after he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The rest of Christianity ignores this requirement.

The Eastern Orthodox Church Year

In the Orthodox Church, the forty days of Great Lent end on the Friday before Palm Sunday. Great Lent starts on Clean Monday and lasts for 40 continuous days (including Sundays). Palm Week is the last week of Great Lent (following the fifth Sunday of Great Lent). During Holy Week, and finally Easter itself, and the fast is broken immediately after the Paschal Divine Liturgy. The Paschal Vigil begins with the Midnight Office, which is the last service of the Lenten Triodion and is timed so that it ends a little before midnight on Holy Saturday night. At the stroke of midnight the Paschal celebration itself begins, consisting of Paschal Matins, Paschal Hours, and Paschal Divine Liturgy. 

In Eastern Christianity, the spiritual preparation for Easter begins with:

  • Palm SundayOn Palm Sunday, the stream of pilgrims who descend the Mount of Olives singing hymns and bearing palm fronds, reenacting Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.
  • Holy Monday: The first three days of Holy Week are meant to remind Christians of Christ’s last instructions with his disciples.
  • Holy Wednesday: Within the past two centuries, Byzantine practice has developed to include the mystery of Holy Unction, which is celebrated on Holy Wednesday, commemorating Christ’s anointing with myrrh. The service ends with the priest anointing the faithful with holy oil.
  • Holy Thursday: Holy Thursday begins with the celebration of vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, in representation of the earthly presence of Christ realized at the Last Supper.
  • Holy FridayGood Friday, a procession of thousands along the Via Dolorosa in the Christian Quarter of the Old City mark the Stations of the Cross (Mark 15:16-37).
  • Holy SaturdayLazarus Saturday begins with the Vespers which officially bring Great Lent to a close, although the fast continues through the following week. On Saturday, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Ceremony of the Holy Fire, when thousands gather to await the miraculous lighting of the Patriarch’s candle from within the tomb.
  • Pascha – Easter: The Paschal Vigil begins with the Midnight Office, which is the last service of the Lenten Triodion and is timed so that it ends a little before midnight on Holy Saturday night. At the stroke of midnight the Paschal celebration itself begins, consisting of Paschal Matins, Paschal Hours, and Paschal Divine Liturgy. 

Does the Orthodox community celebrate Easter with colorful dyed Easter eggs?

In the Orthodox tradition, eggs are a symbol of new life. Early Christians used eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which thus signifies the rebirth of all believers. The Orthodox custom is to dye Easter eggs a deep red color. The red represents life, victory and the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Paschal Hymns  تراتيل فصحية / إن الملاك تفوه

Hymns from The Holy Week  تراتيل من أَسبوع الآلام

About Israel and You

Cameling in the holy land since forever
  • Carolyn Leonard

    I would like permission to use the map, from Jerusalem to Bethany. I found the map in BING, credited to you. This is my second request, with no response. If no reply is received, I will assume you either give permission or that you do not own the map. Please reply on my facebook page.