Russians celebrate Easter for 40 days, and they do so with such elation and enthusiasm that it is visible in their faces
Russians celebrated Easter a week later than the West did this year and did so with characteristic elation and excitement. They will continue to do so for 40 days. Orthodox Christians always celebrate Easter with particular enthusiasm, as it is considered 'a feast among feasts', one that with its brilliance exceeds all the other feast days put together. (This article explains why for Orthodox Christians, Easter is More Important than Christmas).
Here, for your enjoyment we have compiled some of the fantastic photos from Easter night in Russia, that night among nights, when millions leave their houses at midnight to greet the resurrected Lord, greet each other with the Resurrection, and finally break the 40-day fast. (These photos were taken from the following two sources: Orthochristian and Rossiyskaya Gazetta)
At midnight, the believers process around the church three times with burning candles, which symbolizes the three days between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as well as the passing from darkness and death unto life and eternity. The believers, like the myrrh-bearing women, come upon the empty church that symbolizes the empty tomb. The Easter hymn (Troparion) is sung for the first time, and people greet each other with the traditional Easter greeting that is accompanied by three kisses:
"Christ is Risen"
"Truly He is Risen"
After the service, priests bless traditional Easter foods (a sweet bread called kulich, a cheese based cream called pascha and multi coloured boiled eggs) and believers take them home to finally break the 40-day fast and feast.
All Orthodox Christians attend the Easter service, including the Russian president.
The festive service, almost fully sung, begins at 11 pm and ends around 2 am on Sunday morning. Most people and even children that attend attest that the time flies by 'in one breath.' But, of course, the following option is also reserved for the little ones.