The Resurrection of The Lord (Easter Sunday) - PASCHA
Also known as Christ's Pascha, Easter
is the central feast of the liturgical year.
According to the Canonical Gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. It is the most important festival in Eastern Christianity, as it culminates and brings full circle the entirety of Christ's earthly purpose and ministry - to purify and exalt humanity by defeating death and voluntarily overcoming the human condition of mortality. This is summarized in the Paschal Troparion, sung repeatedly during Pascha until the Apodosis of Pascha, the day before Ascension.
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
To prepare for Pascha, Orthodox Christians cut down on non essential worldly activities, fast, pray, and perform community service until Great and Holy Friday. On the Great and Holy Saturday, there is a Vigil that is experienced from 11pm to Midnight in the church. At Midnight, everyone lights candles and go on a Crucession, which is a procession with the cross) around the temple, chanting
"By Thy Resurrection O Christ our savior, the angels in Heaven sing, enable us who are on Earth, to glorify thee in purity of heart."
This tradition originates from the reception of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and reenacts the journey the Myrrhbearers took to Tomb of Jesus early in the morning (Luke 24:1). After the dismissal of the Liturgy, the priest may bless Paschal eggs
and baskets, which contain foods that have been excluded from the diet during the Great Fast. The next morning, there is no divine Liturgy, but rather a reading of the Gospels of John in many languages to showcase how universal the Resurrection is around the world. For the rest of the week, fasting is prohibited, and the customary Paschal greeting is: "Christ is risen,"
to which the response is, "Truly He is risen."
The Easter Troparions:
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from before his face!
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Troparion)
This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
First Ode of the Easter Canon:
It is the day of resurrection ! Let us be illumined for the feast! Pascha! The Pascha of the Lord! From death unto life, and from earth unto heaven has Christ our God led us! Singing the song of victory: Christ is risen from the dead!