Russia is an Orthodox country and usually celebrates Easter later than Catholic countries including England which is, as you all know, a Protestant country.
Russian Easter falls on the last Sunday of April meaning that this year, in 2019, Russians will be celebrating Easter on April 28 while England and the others will have already had their Easter on April 21. However, in some years Easter gets moved to the first week of May.
Regardless of whether a family is religious or not, everyone tends to celebrate Easter. As a matter of fact, my paternal grandmother is a Muslim who happily embraces Christian traditions. Russian Easter is also known as Paskha sharing the same name with the traditional dish that resembles a little cake.
As a child, Easter was my favourite day after my birthday and New Year’s Day of course. Not Christmas, you ask? Well, Christmas is a religious celebration and isn’t festive enough for children to really look forward to it. I talk about Christmas in more detail in my article on Russian New Year.
Members of my family vary from fairly religious Orthodox to adherents of Islam and atheists. Quite a selection. And funny enough all of them love Easter. It’s a very family-centric celebration where the week before families paint and decorate hard-boiled eggs, make the aforementioned traditional dish and go to church on Easter Sunday.
At Easter my family would wake up early in the morning and get together at the breakfast table to have a so-called egg fight. It’s a two person game where the first player picks an egg and holds it tightly while the second player strikes this egg with one of their own. Whoever wins eats the loser egg and carries on playing. Once done playing amongst ourselves, we took the winner eggs to battle with our next-door neighbours. As far as Easters go, mine were the best ones. (I haven’t had a Russian Easter for over three years ever since moving to England).
Fasting is something that Orthodox people are supposed to do before Easter. I am pretty sure that my religious grandmother did this decades ago. Although I feel like nowadays people don’t fast and go to church less frequently. During fasting you must be strong and say no to almost all yummy foods and cut down on food overall. I am really thin and have always struggled to put on weight so fasting would’ve probably killed me. Otherwise, it’s similar to undergoing a 40-day detox program when you feel like a new person afterwards.
The only flaw of Russian Easter is that the Easter bunny isn’t a thing over there. And therefore you will not see a single chocolate bunny on the supermarket shelves. In England, on the other hand, we buy a huge stash of chocolate bunnies and eggs to have a “chocolate feast” and an Easter egg hunt.
All in all, Russian Easter (aka Paskha) is a family celebration and is a great chance to catch up with close members of your family and next-door neighbours too (given you are already quite close).