Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

29 April 2014. The Easter Feast is STILL Rollin’ On!

00 Easter Foods. 28.04.14


The Easter Feast is still rollin’ on! It’s gonna go on STRONG until Pentecost… 8 June. That is, we have all of May and the first week of June as a festive season. Feast ye BOUNTEOUSLY. We’re Christians… that’s what we do!


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Thursday, 17 April 2014

17 April 2014. A Photo Essay: They’re Bakin’ Up Kulichi… Yum, Yum! Easter’s on its Way!

00 kulich 01. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 02. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 03. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 04. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 05. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 06. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 07. easter. 17.04.14


00 kulich 08. easter. 17.04.14


Christianity isn’t only theology and morals… it’s about celebration, joy, and humanity. Easter isn’t only the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Flesh… yes, it IS that, but it’s more besides! It’s about Easter eggs, kulichi (them’s the thing-a-ma-bobs being baked and blessed above), your child’s smile, and a feast! It’s divine and human, sublime and earthy, utterly transcendent, yet closely intimate… all at once, all mixed up, and inextricable.

It’s almost here. If Christ be not risen from the dead, your faith is in vain… that’s the long and the short of it all. Keep it focused… it’s not much longer…


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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Catering Staff of the RF Presidential Administration will Prepare 17,500 Kulichi and more than 5,000 Paskhas

00b Easter 2012. foods


On Tuesday, Viktor Khrekov, a government spokesman, told Interfax-Religion that the catering staff of the RF Presidential Administration would prepare a range of foods for Easter in their own facilities. In particular, they plan to bake kulichi weighing from 500 grammes (1.1 pounds) to 1.3 kilos (2.9 pounds), make tvorog-based paskhas from 100 grammes (4.5 ounces) to 1 kilo (2.2 pounds), and dye chicken and quail eggs and apply Easter appliques to them. The plans call for them to produce and distribute about 17,500 kulichi, more than 5,000 paskhas, and 22,400 dyed eggs. According to size, kulichi will cost 35-600 Roubles (1.00-16.50 USD. 1.10-18.20 CAD. 1.07-17.75 AUD. 0.70-12 Euros. 0.60-9.90 UK Pounds) and paskhas will cost 55-560 Roubles (1.50-15.50 USD. 1.65-17 CAD. 1.60-16.50 AUD. 1.10-11.20 Euros. 0.90-9.25 UK Pounds). In addition, the catering staff is taking orders for kulichi; they’ve arranged a tradeshow of Easter products. Besides this, culinary experts offer advice on how to prepare kulichi, paskhas, and Easter eggs, and teach classes on how to set an “Easter table”. This affects all catering facilities in the Kremlin, the RF Government, the RF Gosduma, the Federation Council, and the Chamber of Accounts. Daily, these dining rooms feed about 15,000 people.


A Christian society requires practical preparation as well as spiritual preparation. It ain’t easy getting all the details nailed down. The above indicates that there’s gonna be a whole lot of celebratin’ going on. We’re Christians… that’s what we do. Stand up and cheer! It’s the high point of the Christian Year!


15 April 2014



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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Orthodox Ritual Meets Soviet Custom in Easter Celebrations

00g Easter in Pyatigorsk. school


Easter is the main Christian and family-orientated celebration in Russia

This year, Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on 5 May. This is the most important celebration on the Christian calendar. During Soviet times, taking part in Easter festivities wasn’t encouraged; as a result, Soviet aspects still layer contemporary Russian Easter traditions. Easter festivities begin with a celebratory evening church service, accompanied by a cross procession. During the procession, priests walk around the church counter-clockwise, carrying banners and icons and singing prayers, parishioners join the procession. The popular belief is that when the procession finishes, this marks the end of Great Lent… then, people can eat whatever they please. Amongst the foods enjoyed on Orthodox Easter are Easter eggs, kulich, and “Paskha” (made with drained cottage cheese and raisins). These dishes are “blessed” during the church service. Traditionally, people keep one of the blessed eggs is until the following Easter; people say that the egg won’t rot for the entire year.

Despite the fact that the Soviets forbade many aspects of religion, practically every household still dyed eggs every year. There wasn’t a particular religious meaning attached to this tradition, but Easter was celebrated all the same. Natalia, a pensioner, said, “We had a favourite game, which meant we looked forward to Easter every year. Two people each took an egg and tapped them against each other. The one whose egg remained intact took the cracked one; so, as you went through the village from door to door, you could end up with quite a few. You didn’t necessarily have to eat all the ‘trophy eggs’ though; when we were quite full, we’d simply share the eggs with anyone who wanted them. My family wasn’t religious… my mum was a teacher, and my dad was an electrician and a war veteran. Yet, over the Easter holidays, I’d sneak off to church with my grandmother, where she’d always spoil me with sweets. Of course, I’d always be in trouble with my parents when I got home, for disgracing them”.

One of the traditions associated with the official prohibition of religious celebrations was the Easter custom of visiting cemeteries and tending the graves of relatives who’d passed away. People rarely neglected this traditional duty. After the liberation of the Church, when it began to enjoy government support, important public figures started attending all the main church services. Fr Aleksandr said, “Visiting cemeteries and leaving Easter eggs and cakes was originally a pagan tradition, which started to become popular again during the Soviet era. As it was difficult to practise the Orthodox faith during Soviet times, certain strong superstitions emerged. At Easter, it became essential to go to church. In general, I can say that people in Russia are Orthodox, although not many are in the habit of going to church. However, at Easter, people come to church, even though you’d never see them any other day of the year. Now, wouldn’t you call that a miracle of the Lord?”

After church, it’s time to break the Great Lent fast with a celebratory dinner, which marks both the end of Great Lent and the beginning of the brightest day of the year. However, it’s important to remember that a fast… especially, a strict one… puts serious stress on the body, which means that you must break it gently and gradually. Doctors don’t recommend that you start by eating heavy meat dishes. It’s better to begin with boiled meat and vegetables on the first day (perhaps, some salad and herbs), then, gradually introduce dairy products. Sergei, a computer programmer, said, “In my family, we usually celebrate with my mother-in-law and father-in-law, at their place. For them, this holiday isn’t so much about religion as it is about family. It’s an occasion that brings all their children and grandchildren together around the table. Strangely enough, I tend to miss dairy products much more than meat. I spend all day on Sunday drinking kefir (a fermented milk drink) and eating yoghurt, though not uncontrollably. Everything happens quite calmly, without any fuss; you can see your body has acclimatised to itself to a modest diet due to the fast. In the middle of the day, we have lamb, Paskha, and a little alcohol”.

Of course, on the night before Easter, all the churches are full of people, although, for some “parishioners”, this is just an excuse to drink. Night falls and the whole city is out celebrating… rather like New Year’s, right? Some even swear that they’ve seen people actually handing out glasses and drinking alcohol in the church itself, during the service. Roman, a fire-inspector, said, “Every year I take part in the Easter service; although, admittedly, not as a parishioner, but in the line of service. I make sure there aren’t any emergencies, although, unfortunately, they do occur more often than you might think. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to rescue women whose clothes have caught fire from the candles. All it takes is that an elderly lady in a fluffy scarf holding a candle leans forward… then, suddenly, she’s ablaze. Nowadays, if I ever see someone in a scarf during the service, I go up to them straight away and remind them to be careful”.

The Easter celebrations continue for a whole week after the Resurrection of Christ; celebratory services take place in churches all week long. Even if there are burial services during this time, the ritual itself takes place with a special Easter sermon and a large number of joyful prayers about the miracle of the Resurrection. Easter week also has another unique facet… it’s the only time of year when anyone can ring the church bells. Sergei said, “My children look forward to ringing the bells all year long. We usually get together with friends who have young children and go to church. It’s best to arrive just after the evening service finishes, around seven at night. All that you have to do is to go up to any of the priests and ask, ‘Please, give your blessing that I might ring the bells to the glory of Christ’. I’ve never known a priest to refuse. Ringing the bells gives you an unforgettable feeling. At first, it’s a little difficult, but as you get the hang of it, you understand the rhythm… you can play something more or less intelligible. Moreover, of course, the children are just delighted. The main thing is to keep an eye on the really little ones though, as the bells are still quite high”.


Getting Ready for Easter

The Easter Tin Hunt

Easter Festival brings music and bell ringing to Moscow

4 May 2013

Vladimir Erkovich

Russia Beyond the Headlines


Editor’s Note:

Nicky and I laid Easter eggs on “our” graves at Jordanville on Saturday night. Nicky tended the graves of his family members… I guess that this makes us more “Soviet” than “White”. As one can see, the Soviet period wasn’t all darkness… indeed, it burned out all the rot in the Mother Church (it didn’t burn out all the sin… it did burn out all the rot, though). Now, we must do the same here in the diaspora… God DOES will it.


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