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RUSSIAN HOLIDAYS / EASTER-PASCHA


The Customs Of Easter

   All the traditions of Easter, from the eggs and rabbits to the hymns and legends, blend together to make this wonderful holiday a time of joy and celebratin. We celebrate Easter with singing and praises to God because we remember that Jesus Christ is alive. He lives today to give each person new life and hope. This is the truth of Easter.

White Week Easter parades Foot washing
Easter tree Egg Games Egg Rolling

Easter White Week

   Early Christians living in the first hundred years after the Resurrection called the week before Easter "White Week." They believed that this was an especially good time to be baptized and they wore new, white clothes as a sign of their new life.
Two hundred years later, the emperor Constantine, too, saw clothing as a way to express a new life in Christ. In honor of the Resurrection, he ordered his council to dress up in their most elegant robes and march through the streets of Rome on Easter.

Easter parades

   Later in European countries, people came to believe that a new piece of clothing worn on Easter Sunday would bring good luck all year long. As people walked to and from church in their new clothes, they visited and admired one another. Soon this simple Easter walk became a parade, an event which everyone looked forward to all during the cold, dark winter months.
One of the most famous Easter parades today takes place along Fifth Avenue in New York City. It began as a casual stroll home from church, but in the early 1900s, it became a great fashion parade. Fancy hats decorated with flowers, ribbons, and even birds in nests are especially popular in New York's Easter parade.

Easter Foot washing

   Foot washing is one of the lesser-known customs of the Easter season, but perhaps is one of the most important. At the time of Christ, people wore sandals and walked many miles on dusty roads. It was a sign of courtesy and respect for a servant to gently wash the feet of guests when they arrived.
The night before he was crucified, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel, and washed the feet of each of his disciples. Christ was showing his followers that he was their servant, and that he respected them. Christ knew he was leaving the disciples to start his church, and he was also showing them that in order to be good leaders, they must both show respect to their followers and also be willing to serve them.
In medieval times, kings and lords followed Christ's example by washing the feet of twelve of the poorest men in their kingdoms on the Thursday before Easter. Later, in England, it became the custom of the kings and queens to wash the feet of as many poor people as they were years old. Queen Elizabeth still carries on this custom today.

Easter tree

   Making an Easter tree is an old custom in Holland, Germany, France, and Switzerland. In the days before Easter, bare branches are brought into European houses and mounted in pots filled with earth. Children busily hollow out eggshells by poking small holes in the ends of their 'eggs' and draining the liquid. They use ribbons and dyes to decorate their eggs, and then hang them on the bare branches.
The decorated Easter tree reminds a family of Christ's Resurrection from death because the eggs are a symbol of life adorning the dry branches which symbolize death.German and Dutch families brought the custom of the Easter tree to the United States.

Easter Egg Games

   Games involving eggs have long been enjoyed in many parts of the world at Eastertime. In England, eggs are placed along a racetrack and children race to gather the most eggs in a set length of time. This game is also played in Germany's Black Forest, but there, the contestants ride on horseback or on bicycles!
Egg breaking games have been popular for centuries in many different countries, too. In England it is called Egg Picking, or Egg Shakling, and children hold hard-boiled eggs in their hands and knock them lightly against the eggs held by others. When players' eggs break, they must give them to their opponents. The champion is the child whose egg has the hardest shell!
Easter egg hunts arc customary all over the world. Held on or near Easter Sunday, egg hunts often have separate areas for younger and older children, and the winner is the child who finds the most eggs.

Easter Egg Rolling

   Egg rolling was started in Enrope hundreds of years ago. Gathering on gentle slopes or hillsides, contestants rolled their eggs toward the finish line at the bottom of the hill. The first unbroken egg over the finish line was the winning entry.
In the United States, an annual egg roll was started during the presidency of ]ames Madison over 180 years ago. The White House south lawn became the site of the Easter Monday Egg Roll, and hundreds of children participate in this traditional event. Adults 'are not allowed to roll eggs, and the only adults allowed to watch the game are those accompanied by children!


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