April 26, 2022

Russian Easter Amid Conflict


Russian Easter Amid Conflict
Putin attends Easter service, April 24, 2022. Press Office of the President of Russia.

Russian Orthodox Easter bears all the hallmarks of one of the church's holiest days. This year, however, celebrations were held under the light of the continuing war.

Typically observed with religious rites and opulent late-night services (and traditional painted eggs), this year's festivities seemed much more comprehensive. City parades had a distinctively military flair, with the now-recognizable "Z" symbol and patriotic colors of St. George's ribbon mingling with traditional clerical outfits and intricate icons. Even military servicemembers took part in processions, underlining Russia's deep marriage between church and state.

As for Putin, he and Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin attended midnight service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow's main church, which was first constructed after Russia's victory in the Napoleonic Wars. In an official statement, Putin said that Easter calls all Orthodox followers to recall their "high moral ideals and values, awakens in people the brightest feelings, faith in the triumph of life, goodness and justice." In a statement directed at Patriarch Kirill, Putin said that at Easter, "the hearts of believers are filled with special joy, sincere love for their neighbors, the desire to do good deeds and help those in need."

In effect, his statements sidestepped any mention of the war in Ukraine.

Orthodox Easter fell this year on April 24, one week after the date the holiday was observed by Catholic and Protestant denominations.

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