The date of Orthodox Easter does not coincide with Catholic Easter, since the Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian one, although sometimes the two holidays are in the same day.
Orthodox Easter preparations begin with 40 days of strict Great Lent. The products of animal origin (such as butter, milk, eggs, fish, with the total exclusion of the meat) are not eaten during Lent, except for a few Sundays (such as Palm Sunday). Other days you can eat only vegetables. Alcohol and sexual relations are forbidden. On Wednesday and Friday you can eat only raw, not cooked food, and on Good Friday do not eat at all.
Week before Easter, the orthodox celebrate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, or Palm Sunday. In Russia, the entrance of the Lord in Jerusalem isn’t called Palm Sunday, but the “Willow Sunday”. The climate of Russia is cold and the palm trees do not grow there, however, in this period every year the buds of the willows appear.
For the Orthodox is the most important celebration of the year, Orthodox Easter is usually celebrated with family and friends.
On Holy Saturday people bring the traditional home-prepared dishes to the church to be blessed: painted eggs, the paska (ricotta cake with candied fruit and raisins), and kulič (sort of sweet cake).
The midnight Saturday ringing church bells announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everyone lights his candle and follows the cross that is carried by the Priest. Numerous church bells start ringing, and finally the priest tells everybody to forgive each other and seal it with a hug and a kiss. The traditional Easter greeting can be heard everywhere: “Christ is risen!” (russ.: Христос воскрес! Christos voskres) and the answer “He is truly risen!” (russ.: Воистину воскрес! Voistinu voskres).
During Easter dinner family and friends are around the table, in the center of the table there are the painted eggs. To paint the eggs is a ritual that symbolizes the sacrifice, the blood of Christ. Traditional Easter eggs are red. but now they are different colors or with religious symbols, or different patterns.
Another important dish is il kulìčh, a kind of sweet bread. On the top of it there is an abbreviation with the initials XB (Христос Воскрес – Christos voskres – Christ is risen)
kulìčh and painted eggs before being eaten are brought to the church and blessed with a special ritual and therefore considered sacred.