2016-04-27 / Editorials

Kalo Pascha!

On Sunday, May 1, Greek and Eastern Orthodox adherents will be celebrating Orthodox Easter, also known as Pascha in Greek. This is the same event that Western Christian groups celebrated around the time of the Spring Equinox, according to the Gregorian calendar. However being Orthodox, the Julian calendar is used for determining the dates of holidays, in keeping with older traditions. Both holidays celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, who sacrificed His life by crucifixion in order to redeem the souls of His followers. It is the central mystery and most important miracle of Christianity.

There was a great influx of Greek immigration into the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, and they brought their Orthodox faith with them.

Pascha is preceded by a Lenten period of repentance, in which some abstain from eating dairy and/or meat, and for some the fast is only for the week before Easter. It is considered the soul of faith, in that it is a time for self-examination, and self-denial helps grow compassion, turning indifference to devotion. The Orthodox Church also observes about seven weeks following Easter, when the Apostles who witnessed the miracle of Christ’s resurrection were visited by the Holy Spirit of Christ and became ambassadors of the faith.

To celebrate Pascha, Greek Orthodox Christians buy tsoureki, or Easter bread, and prepare a lamb feast to celebrate Easter with loved ones, in honor of The Lamb of God, another name for Jesus Christ. Meat and dairy are again allowed and they are partaken of with great enjoyment.

People often wonder what eggs have to do with Easter celebrations. An interesting ritual observed by some members of the Russian Orthodox Christian community is the tradition of laying Easter eggs and Easter bread on dead relatives’ graves. In this way, they affirm their faith that Jesus Christ has risen, and one day, their loved ones will, too. The Greeks also have their traditions involving Easter eggs, which are hard-boiled and often dyed red symbolizing the Blood of Christ, which is the promise of eternal life. And the egg has long been an important symbol in spring fertility rituals. The Easter Eggs are then cracked on Easter Sunday, symbolizing Jesus emerging from his tomb. For levity, many rap their eggs against their friends’ eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky.

To those celebrating, we at the Gazette wish you and your loved ones Kalo Pascha!

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