Orthodox world celebrates Easter
Today, all Orthodox Christians in the world celebrate the main Christian holiday - Easter. The resurrection of Christ according to the Julian calendar is celebrated in about 70 countries around the world with Orthodox churches and communities. On Sunday, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill led a solemn service in the main cathedral of Russia - Christ the Savior Cathedral, which was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.
On the Easter night, the Gospels are read in foreign languages and for the next week the divine services are officiated with the open wide royal gate, symbolizing the doors to Eden.
The Easter celebrations end the Great Lent, which lasted for 48 days. Products of animal origin, bad habits are prohibited during that time and believers are encouraged to work on uplifting and strengthening their character, visit churches more often, take communion. The Orthodox Church celebrates Easter for 40 days, although most of them are not as festive as the first week.
Community of more than 30,000 Russian Orthodox churches in total celebrate Easter in 68 countries around the world.
There are 14 autocephalous Orthodox churches: Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Alexandria, Patriarchate of Antioch, Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Patriarchate of Georgia, Patriarchate of Serbia, Patriarchate of Romania, Patriarchate of Bulgaria, Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Orthodox Church of Greece, Orthodox Church of Poland, Orthodox Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia, and the biggest one - the Russian Orthodox Church, uniting around 50 mln people.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his congratulations to all Orthodox Christians and Russian citizens, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. According to him, the great holiday of Easter arouses the kindest feelings in the hearts of millions of believers, unites them around the eternal spiritual values of Orthodoxy and the centuries-long historic and cultural traditions of our people
"And of course, on this holiday, I would like to note a great constructive role of the Russian Orthodox Church in matters of education and charity, as well as strengthening of the moral foundations of society, upbringing of the younger generation. The church is doing a lot to address pressing social problems, to preserve the country's inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace," President's telegram says.
Putin also sent a congratulatory message to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the head of Russian Orthodox Church. "The great holiday of Easter turns us to the spiritual values of Orthodoxy and grants us the faith in triumph of justice," the president said, underlining the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in social life, TASS reports.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill on Orthodox Easter holiday, and highlighted the work of the Russian Orthodox Church in maintaining inter-religious peace and harmony. According to him, Easter is a special holiday for every Orthodox Christian. He stressed that this day is filled with love, kindness and mercy, the desire to help those who are in especially difficult situation.