Easter in Russia

By Masha Komissarova

Have you ever wanted to know how Easter is celebrated in other cultures? Have you ever wondered if it’s the same or drastically different than in the US? I’m Russian and I’ll tell you how and why Easter is such an important and fun celebration in Russia.    

If you’re religious, Easter is the day of the resurrection of Christ. The holiday came to Russia from Byzantium together with Russia’s christening at the end of the 10th century. Since then, this Christian holiday has been widely celebrated all over Russia. Eggs, which are traditionally painted red and its shades, was the mandatory attribute and the symbol of Christian Easter in the 12th century. High and round kulich with the cross image on top has always been baked from yeast dough. It is believed that quality Easter bread ensures the well-being of the family. It is to be cut across, keeping intact to cover the rest of the Easter cake. And, of course, the old Russian tradition of Easter is to send and deliver gifts to poor families, relatives, orphanages and others in need. 

The day before Easter all churches hold night services and organize religious processions around churches. Usually the day before, kulich had been already baked or bought and the eggs decorated. My family and I decorated the eggs and prepared our kulich the night before.

The day of Easter, the common phrase you will hear is: “Khristos voskres!” (Christ is risen!) and you answer with “Voistinu voskres” (Truly he is risen!) Then the traditional greeting is followed by hugging and triple kissing. 

You don’t have to be religious to celebrate. One of my absolute favorite parts of Russian Easter is that it is a day of abundant food. It’s kind of like American Thanksgiving but with the religious aspect. Typical foods that one might see on the table are Easter cakes, kulich, and painted eggs. 

I hope you’ve learned a bit more about Russian culture when it comes to Easter than you have known already. If you ever get a chance to visit Russia I recommend visiting during Easter. You’ll get to see bright and beautiful designs on food and all around you. You will truly immerse yourself in old Russia. And of course, the food is a must-try. 

 

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