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“We stood at the fence.” Easter in Russia was held ‘according to the new rules’

Instead of tears – joy

Until the last moment, there was a lot thinks that was not clear. The priests assured that everyone would be allowed into the churches.

… And the doctors warned: the situation with the coronavirus is worsening, so it is better to stay at home. In some regions, they decided to play it safe: in Yekaterinburg , the citywide procession was canceled, and in the Kuban they served on the street.

The Orthodox people were very afraid that the churches would be closed and they would not be able to fully celebrate their main holiday.

In 2020, the exclamations of “Christ is Risen!” rang out in silence.

Then the rector of the Tatiana Church at Moscow State University, Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky, admitted that he performed the Easter service full of joyful chants with a heavy feeling. “I was in the temple and only ten employees. For the rest, we conducted an online broadcast, which was watched by more than a thousand people. Only this was somehow consoling,” he said.

But this time the church of St. Tatiana was full. About 800 people came to the night service, almost like in pre-dock times.

“There were as many as 350 parishioners. Of course, this is all very pleasing,” the archpriest notes. “And I want to say that the Orthodox have shown responsibility: many parishioners, as I learned, were vaccinated. Others were ill.”

Everything is different

The Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was also not empty: believers were allowed there. You can get to the patriarchal service only by invitation. In addition, the number of worshipers was limited – instead of the usual five thousand, there were several hundred people.

What the Orthodox paid attention to: Easter services were held according to the new rules.

Back in March 2020, the Russian Orthodox Church introduced a number of restrictions due to the coronavirus. So, at the end of the service, the believers do not kiss the cross – instead, the priest leans it against the forehead. You cannot kiss the hand of a clergyman, although this is an old tradition. They also do not attach themselves to the communion cup.

The sacrament of the sacrament has also changed slightly. Instead of a special handkerchief, believers wipe their lips with disposable napkins. Drinking containers are strictly plastic cups. Previously, it was poured into temple dishes.

“Better this way than under the fence”

And, of course, everyone should be wearing masks. The worshipers are already accustomed to this. Better so, if only they were allowed into the temple, they reason.

“It’s so good that this year we managed to celebrate Easter at the service,” says Marina Ivanova, a parishioner of the Nikolsky Church in the city of Aleksin in the Tula Region.

On the main holiday of Christianity, it was always very crowded here. Now there are fewer parishioners: not all of them dared to go to the service. Those who came stand in masks and at a distance from each other, they strictly monitor compliance with antiviral measures.

“But last year we did celebrate Easter literally at the fence. No one was allowed into the church, almost until morning the police were on duty around. And we prayed at the temple fence,” recalls the interlocutor of RIA Novosti.

It was impossible then to consecrate Easter cakes and eggs. The parishioners themselves sprinkled them with holy water at home. But this time there was a stir in the church: people walked from early morning until late Saturday evening on the eve of the Bright Resurrection of Christ.

In other regions, it was about the same. However, on the whole, there were much fewer people in the temples at Easter than usual. If in 2019, 4.3 million people prayed at services throughout the country, as follows from the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, now about 2.6 million. The Orthodox, apparently, are still getting used to the new reality.


  • Translated