Orthodox Easter is approaching
and we thought it would be a good time to do some articles on Pascha (Orthodox Easter). This will be a series of posts covering tradition and the meaning of Pascha for us Orthodox Christians. With these series of posts introducing our new author Effie Arvanitou.
The word Pascha is transliteration from the Hebrew word Pesah, which means passage. Hebrew people celebrate Pesah in remembrance of their passage from Egyptian thralldom to the promise land of Hanaan, through the Red Sea, guided by Moses. In orthodox tradition, Jesus Christ guides his people through his crucifixion and resurrection from the slavery of sin to the spiritual promise land; the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pascha is a movable holiday and it is celebrated “the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox”. Orthodox and Western churches calculate the date of the feast based on that, nevertheless different calendars are being used – Gregorian calendar for the Western church and Julian calendar for the Eastern and so we have two different dates.
The faithful prepare for Pascha 7 weeks before. That’s when the Great Lent starts. The fast begins with Clean Monday and during that time the consumption of meat, fish, eggs and dairy is prohibited. In that period there are two days that only fish consumption is allowed: the day of Annunciation and Palm Sunday. The concession for this is being given on these days for two different reasons. The Annunciation is one of the most important events in Orthodox faith hence it must be celebrated likewise, even if it is in the middle of the Lent. On the other hand, Palm Sunday is the last day before the Holy Week. Supposedly during Holy Week the faithful fast even harder – they stop consuming oil – and by eating fish on Palm Sunday they strengthen themselves for that.
The Great Lent is concluded by Lazarus Saturday named in remembrance of the raising of Lazarus who was a very dear friend of Jesus. His raising deems to be the augury of Christ’s resurrection and all of the Christians after that. Lazarus Saturday is followed by Palm Sunday that is the first day of the Holy Week. On Palm Sunday we celebrate the Lord’s triumphal entry in to the city of Jerusalem. The crowd received Him as a kind and laid palm branches for His donkey to walk upon. The same crowd would yell “crucify him” to Pontius Pilatus a few days later.
Stay tuned for our next post “The first three days of the holy week”