Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Christ has Risen, Yours is Next Week?

Russians celebrate everything twice, I like to joke. I don’t make it up, though; we do celebrate everything twice! Christmas is celebrated on December 25th by the conventional calendar and is repeated on January 7th, according to the ancient Russian Gregorian calendar. We grew up happily celebrating the New Year twice: first time as all Westerners, on New Year’s Eve, and second time, on January 13th. The first time is with family; the second time with friends.
Still, Christmas is not as important in the Russian Orthodox tradition as Easter. We were raised eating colored eggs and Easter cakes even under the fear of being caught. I am not sure how it works, but my body knows when Easter comes. It took me a while to understand the reasons behind my irritability and frustration each spring, when I prepare Easter services for my members. Holy Week in America is the worst time of the year. I see colored eggs in every store, I smell Easter cakes and I want to scream, “It is too early.” This is the time to fast, not to eat eggs. When it is Easter in America, it is Verbnoe Vosckresenie in Russia, like Palm Sunday, but with pussy willow branches instead of palms. 
I can’t color eggs and bake Easter Cake before my Russian Orthodox Easter. So I celebrate Easter twice: the first time with my church, and then second time with my family. We color eggs and eat Easter Cake.
I hold a hard-boiled egg in the morning of the Russian Orthodox Easter. We have something like an egg fight. The one who cracks the egg of another person wins. Then we say, Khristos Voskres! Voistinu Voskres! – “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! And we kiss each other three times.
Then, I know that I have celebrated Easter and finally calm down, until next year. The problem is when we celebrate Easter on different days, someone will say, My Christ Has Risen! When is Yours?

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