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Archive for April 2016

Holiday Almanac: Easter celebrations start tonight for Eastern Orthodox Christians

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The world’s 200 million-plus Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate tomorrow as Easter, the day Jesus rose from the dead, several weeks after their fellow believers in Roman Catholic and …

Source: Holiday Almanac: Easter celebrations start tonight for Eastern Orthodox Christians

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Written by Jim Davis

April 30, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Holiday Almanac: Easter celebrations start tonight for Eastern Orthodox Christians

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Pantocrator01 (2)

Icon of Jesus on the underside of the rotunda at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Fort Lauderdale. The icon portrays Christ as the Pantocrator, or All-Ruler. (Photo by James Davis)

The world’s 200 million-plus Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate tomorrow as Easter, the day Jesus rose from the dead, several weeks after their fellow believers in Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.

The founding events are the same: Three days after Jesus’ corpse was entombed, women came to embalm it, but found the tomb open and empty. Jesus then appeared to them, then to his disciples, then to crowds of hundreds, before ascending into heaven.

However, the Eastern churches — Greek, Russian, Antiochian and other branches — calculate the date for Easter after the Julian calendar under a formula no longer used by Western churches.

At most Orthodox churches, the observances will start with the Resurrection Service tonight. At midnight, the pastor carries a lighted candle in the darkened sanctuary to proclaim, “Come, receive the light from the light that is never overtaken by night …”

The flame is passed on to his congregants’ candles. Then the pastor and choir sing hymns outside the church and return for the Pascha, the Easter liturgy. Sunday worship features an Agapé service, in which the biblical story of Jesus’ resurrection is read in several languages.

Greek Orthodox churches will bless and distribute red eggs at the end of the service to symbolize the resurrection.

— JAMES D. DAVIS

 

Written by Jim Davis

April 30, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Passover: Freedom festival for the world’s Jews

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Arthur_Szyk_(1894-1951)._The_Haggadah,_Dedication_to_King_George_VI_(1936),_Łódź,_Poland

A page from the famous Szyk Haggadah of 1936. Source: The Arthur Szyk Society, Burlingame, Calif. (www.szyk.org), via Wikimedia Creative Commons. (CC-By-4.0).

Passover, called the oldest festival of freedom, starts at sundown today. The eight-day Jewish festival dates back more than 30 centuries, recounting the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

As told in the biblical book of Exodus, the pharaoh rejected the prophet Moses’ demand to release the people, bringing a wave of supernatural plagues on the land. The last plague was death for the firstborn of every Egyptian household in one night. The Israelites escaped death by dashing lambs’ blood on their doorposts — a sign of faith that made God “pass over” those homes.

In modern traditional households, the eight-day festival starts with a ceremonial meal called a Seder on the first two nights, according to a program book known as a Haggaday. Foods on the Seder plate symbolize the Exodus story, including a lamb shank; a piece of bitter herbs such as horseradish, for the bitterness of slavery; a bowl of saltwater, for the tears of oppression; and a mix of apples, cinnamon and wine, for the mortar used in the Egyptian bricks.

Also on the Seder plate are a roasted egg and leafy vegetables, for the springtime occasion of Passover; and the hard, unleavened bread called matzoh, for the Israelites’ haste in evacuating Egypt.

— JAMES D. DAVIS

Written by Jim Davis

April 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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