While many Christians have long celebrated Easter, this year Orthodox Easter takes place on Sunday, April 27 - much later than normally, as a result of ancient calendar calculations and regulations requiring the prior celebration of the Jewish Passover, in accordance with their traditional interpretation of scriptural record. Thus, at midnight on Saturday April 26, the night that is said to be brighter than any sunlit day, some 300 million Orthodox Christians will crowd churches to hear the words: "Come, receive the light!" Throughout the world, entire congregations, previously waiting in darkness and anticipation, will light up in splendor and people's faces will shine with joy and hope. All of them will chant the familiar hymn of triumph: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and granting life to those in the tombs." For Orthodox faithful, Easter is the feast of feasts.
This Sunday, on April 27, Orthodox Russians will celebrate Easter. The days when celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was forbidden are over. Today's Russia is re-establishing Orthodox traditions and re-shaping them.Originally the celebration of Easter in Russia was introduced in the late 10th century. Orthodox Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the vernal equinox, and so Easter is something of a spring festival. For this day Russians bake special Easter cakes (kulich), make curd cake (paskha; this dish bears the original name of the holiday in Russian), and paint eggs (krashenki).
Holy Saturday is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of the Holy Week, in which Christians prepare for Easter. On this day the church commemorates the time that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb and that he descended into hell.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of his disciple, Judas Iscariot. Judas received money for betraying Jesus. He told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Jesus was brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedron had assembled (John 18:1-24).
On April 17, 2008, His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman issued a letter to the clergy of the Diocese of Alaska.
The text of Metropolitan Herman's is as follows.
"The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY, on April 17, 2008, has issued the following statement.
ROME, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Italy has launched procedures to return the St. Nicolas Orthodox church, in the southern city of Bari, back to Russia, a source in the Russian embassy in the country said Friday.
On Thursday the city council of Bari unanimously voted to hand the 100-year-old church to the Italian government so that it can subsequently become Russian property.