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  • Writer's pictureOlga Jarrell

Easter - Пасха

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Easter, also known as Paskha (Па́сха), is one of the most important Russian holidays. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Easter according to the Julian calendar ( по Юлиа́нскому календарю́). The celebration commemorates the resurrection of Jesus and shares fundamental similarities with the Western Christian celebration.


Easter services in Russian Orthodox churches are held Saturday evening and attended even by those families that do not regularly go to church. At midnight, ringing church bells announce the resurrection of the Jesus Christ, and the priest says, "Christ is risen!" – Христо́с воскре́с! The congregation replies with, "He is truly risen!"- Вои́стину воскре́с!

EASTER EGGS | Пасха́льные я́йца

Russian Easter eggs have been the mandatory attribute and the symbol of Christian Easter since the 12th century. It is a common Orthodox Easter tradition to dye eggs a deep red color to represent the life and blood of Jesus; however, nowadays they could be any color. The Russian Easter egg tradition dates back to pre-Christian times when people saw eggs as fertility symbols and as devices of protection. These dyed eggs are also incorporated into the traditional Easter game of egg fight or egg tapping (битки́). The rule of the game is simple: the opposing players hold hard-boiled eggs and tap each other’s eggs, trying to crack them without breaking their own.


Large family feasts are a staple of Easter celebrations. They mark the end of the 40-day Lent fast, during which meat and dairy-based foods are restricted. The best and the most delicious dishes are on tables on that day. While some dishes vary from house to house, traditional Easter Russian feasts always include kulich, paskha, and dyed eggs.

Kulich (кули́ч) is traditional Easter bread baked from yeast dough, lots of butter and eggs. It is tall and round, usually with icing and a cross image on top.
Paskha (па́сха) is a sweet cheesecake-like dessert made from cottage cheese, sugar, raisins and other ingredients, and formed into the shape of a pyramid.
Easter eggs (пасха́льные яйца) are traditionally dyed in red, but nowadays could be any color.

It is also traditional to bring baskets of food to church to be blessed.


On Easter, Russians greet each other with the phrase "Christ is risen!" – Христо́с воскре́с! The appropriate response is "He is truly risen!"- Вои́стину воскре́с! Then they kiss each other on both cheeks three times.

The Boris Kustodiev’s picture shows the traditional Easter exchanging of a triple kiss, called khristosovanie (христо́сование).

Христо́сование – стари́нный ру́сский обы́чай, когда́ ве́рующие поздравля́ют друг дру́га с пра́здником Па́схи. Оди́н говори́т: "Христо́с воскре́с(е)", а друго́й отвеча́ет: "Вои́стину воскре́с(е)". Зате́м они́ три́жды целу́ются.

Борис Кустодиев. "Христосование"

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