Voices from Russia

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Putin Sends Easter Greetings to Russians

00g Easter 2012. Moscow


On Sunday, the Kremlin press office said that President Vladimir Putin sent his greetings to all Orthodox Christians and to all Russians celebrating Easter, Christianity‘s most important and joyful feast, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Putin wrote, “Easter gives joy and hope to millions of people, it inspires us to good deeds and noble aspirations. It turns us to fundamental spiritual values that played a special role in Russia’s history and which feed the national culture”. Putin also praised the role of the Orthodox Church in maintaining civil peace and accord in Russia and developing inter-confessional and inter-ethnic dialogue, saying, “The Church continually takes a care to strengthen high moral and ethical ideals and family traditions in society, and in raising the younger generation. The Church does a lot to solve pressing social problems”.

The influence of the Orthodox Church in Russia has risen since the collapse of the USSR, despite the fact that the Russian Constitution mandates separation of church and state. A public opinion survey conducted by the Kremlin-backed pollster Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) last year showed that 65 percent of Russians have confidence in the Church.

Early on Sunday, Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev attended Easter services in downtown Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour as Russia celebrated Christianity’s most important and joyful holiday. Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the Local Church of Moscow, led the service. In his sermon at the Divine Liturgy, the patriarch cautioned against interpreting freedom as permissiveness, and he called believers to follow spiritual rather than material values in their lives.

The Resurrection of the Saviour symbolises his victory over sin and death and the birth of a new world redeemed by his Passion. After midnight and for the next 40 days after Easter Sunday, Orthodox Christians greet each other with “Christ is risen!” and the reply is “He is risen, indeed!” followed by three kisses. They also exchange Easter eggs. Preparation for Easter celebrations begins in Russia on Holy Saturday… the last day of Holy Week, also known in Russia as Passion Week. On that day, people come to churches in great numbers to have paschal cakes and eggs blessed by priests. The Easter Divine Liturgy starts shortly before midnight. At midnight, a solemn festive procession with crosses and icons starts, with priests and believers going around the church glorifying the Resurrection. Nonbelievers attracted by its splendour often attend the procession. The service lasts into the early hours of Sunday.

5 May 2013




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