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Easter

Easter is the oldest and most significant Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated by all Christian denominations. The week preceding it, known as Holy Week, is a period of remembrance of the most crucial events in Christian faith. The last three days of this week—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday—are collectively referred to as the Paschal Triduum. Easter Sunday is the most solemn remembrance of Jesus' resurrection. Easter Sunday marks the beginning of the Easter Octave, an eight-day festive period.

Easter celebrations incorporate many elements from ancient beliefs and customs, earning it the title of "spring holidays." However, their significance has evolved over time. Spring celebrations have always been associated with new life and fertility, incorporating elements of fertility cults in their rituals. They expressed the joy of earthly life, its vitality, and biological aspects.

Easter is preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and penance. It begins on Ash Wednesday, also known as Ash Wednesday or Ash Wednesday. During Ash Wednesday services in churches, ashes from burned palm branches from the previous year's Palm Sunday are sprinkled on the heads of the faithful. In the past, it was believed that the ashes were made from human remains found in cemeteries. Ashing was introduced into the liturgy of the Universal Church around the 4th century. Initially, only those publicly performing penance had their heads sprinkled. These individuals were barred from returning to the church until the Easter confession, held on Holy Thursday.

From the 10th century onwards, the ashing ritual became a rite for all believers—a symbol of repentance, sorrow for sins, readiness for great fasting, self-discipline, and contemplation. In the 18th and 19th centuries, and in some regions at the beginning of the 20th century, priests would sprinkle ash on the head of one significant family member—father, grandfather—and provide them with some ash for the prayer book. In the household, this person would then "give the ashes" to the family, sprinkling them with ash. Lent was to be a period of abstinence, piety, good deeds, and moderation. In the old days, villagers adhered to church recommendations and chose various forms of abstinence independently. Meat, and in some households, dairy, sugar, and honey disappeared from tables. Instead, tables featured Lenten sour soup (see recipe), potatoes, sauerkraut, herring, and bread.

In affluent, noble households, fasting was less stringent, as they indulged in many excellent fish dishes, cheeses, butter, and milk. Typically, during Lent, people refrained from smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. There were no parties, social gatherings (people met during joint prayers), no singing, and no playing. In the middle of Lent, people observed Half-Lent, a moment of respite from abstinence and the quiet fasting. Boys would run around the villages making noise with wooden rattles and banging pots filled with ash against house doors.

Easter, blending so much from ancient beliefs and customs, rightly earns the title of spring holidays. However, its significance has changed. Spring holidays have always been associated with new life, soaked in fertility cults, and contained their elements. They expressed the joy of earthly life, its vitality, and biological dimensions.

Easter Traditions

In some countries, eggs are rolled down hills, and the winner, whose egg remains unbroken, is considered lucky. This tradition is popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. Another common tradition is egg tapping, where participants try to break their opponent's egg without damaging their own.

The Easter Bunny is a highly recognizable symbol associated with delivering Easter eggs. In some countries, such as Germany, children believe that the Easter Bunny brings them gifts and hides eggs in the yard. In Poland, the Easter Bunny's role in delivering eggs is also popular.

Italian Easter tradition is known for the Good Friday Procession, where solemn parades and displays of the Resurrected Jesus figure take place. In Bulgaria, the tradition is to bless bread during the Easter service, which is then divided and distributed among the worshippers.

Many countries also enjoy traditional Easter dishes. In Poland, mazurek (a type of Easter cake) and white borscht with white sausage are popular, while in Italy, the Easter dinner may include special cakes and meat dishes.

It's worth noting that despite differences in traditions, Easter remains a holiday that unites people worldwide in celebrating the joy of the Resurrection. It's a time when families gather to celebrate and spend time together, reflecting on the spiritual significance of this holiday. Easter traditions introduce colors, flavors, and sounds into our lives, creating a unique atmosphere that expresses both culture and faith. Easter is not only a religious holiday but also a time that celebrates the diversity and unity of traditions worldwide.



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