Russian Easter celebrations stem from the Orthodox calendar, and the Easter traditions in Russia are a wonderful celebration of this occasion. It is one of the favourite holidays for Russians, especially amongst children due to the colourful Easter eggs.
You might be used to giving and receiving chocolate eggs of all shapes and sizes, but in Russia, the eggs you will see at easter time are the hard-boiled variety!
The tradition of painting hard-boiled eggs in a myriad of colours stems back to the times of ancient Rome, when a red egg was a symbol of life itself. This is why the majority of eggs will be painted red.
The eggs can be painted or dyed. The traditional way was to boil them in water together with the skin of red onions, in order to dye the eggs red.
On the Thursday before Easter, all Russian women clean and tidy their houses in preparation for the Easter weekend. It is known as "Clean Thursday".
On that evening, the women begin to bake sweet pastries, called 'kulichi', which they take to church to be blessed.
On Easter morning, Russians go to church, together with the pastries for blessing. On returning home, the family sits down for a large Easter meal, where you will see lots of kulichi and red eggs.
It is traditional to greet one another with the phrase 'Xristos voskrese!', meaning 'Christ is alive', together with 3 kisses on the cheek. Eggs are exchanged, together with good wishes for the occasion, and children often play games with the eggs. One common game involves 2 players, who hold an egg each. They knock the eggs together forcefully, and the winner is the person whose egg remains intact!