Easter: Part III

The last item on the Easter list was dying eggs.

When Andrei and I arrived in Moscow after a ten day trip in Jersey it was a couple of days before (Orthodox) Palm Sunday. We popped into the grocery store to grab some essentials and were excited to find a bunch of Easter stuff – egg dye, chocolates with XB (Hristos Voskrese = Christ is Risen) written on them, faux (but beautiful) pussywillow branches and shrink wrap egg decorations that were either spring-y or religious-y. We went a little crazy and bought a bunch of the egg decorations/dyes. I was excited to see some all-natural dyes that were made from greens, carrots, beets etc (Don’t worry Sis, I grabbed an extra container or two for you). It was fun to see Easter stuff that reflected the religious aspect of this holiday (Christ’s Resurrection) as opposed to in the States where, as my aunt pointed out, next to the Passover/Sader books, you have a Peter Rabbit display.

Nothing crazy fancy was done with the eggs. I tried sticking sprigs of parsley on them for some special design elements, but that did not work out at all and was quickly given up. Unfortunately the green dye in the box we opened was a little funky. Too bad because that’s my favorite color. Although our orange ones came out gorgeous! We had white and brown eggs so we were able to get two different shades from each dye.

Andrei was in charge of the shrink wrap eggs. I think he was into helping me decorate, but I sort of made it mandatory since I felt like I would be too lonely doing it on my own. He claimed to be an expert and veteran at the shrink wrap method (basically you put this decorated sheet of plastic over the egg and hold it in steam and it shrink wraps around the egg), but none of them came out. I’ll let him blame the Russian eggs (they come in cartons of 10 and some still have feathers on them, so that’s enough to unsettle anyone).

I think I like dyed eggs more, but I’m glad we did the shrink wrap too. The first time I tried doing shrink wrap was for Easter 2008. That year, while I was standing over the steam messing up every single egg (it’s much harder than you think), Andrei walked into my parents’ kitchen. He had flown in from the East Coast for a surprise visit for Easter. He later proposed after the Easter night services. So as funny as it may sound, shrink wrapping eggs is what I was doing the moment my entire life changed.

Easter is an incredibly important and special time for any Orthodox Christian and Andrei made it even more so with such a happy memory. Only days before that I was guided by my spiritual father to pray to St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (whose relics are in the cathedral in San Francisco) to help me find my next steps in life. My graduation from Boston University was approaching and I was getting that slightly nervous/clueless feeling of what I was supposed to do after. Standing by the Saint’s relics, I did as instructed and felt more at ease. Four days later, Andrei was kneeling in front of me with a ring and I had my answer.

And in addition to the Easter We Got Engaged, we have the Easter We Were In Jerusalem, and now the Easter We Were In Moscow (Somewhere in there is also the Easter Papa Accidentally Yelled Christ Is Born).

Easter in Russia is pretty much the same as Easter at home. Just…more. More people, more services, more red. Everything was red. At home the clergy serves in white. Here it’s red. Candles are red. Flowers are red. Women’s scarves are red. It’s SO red. And very beautiful. We were lucky to attend services at St. Tatiana’s church at the Moscow State University campus near the Kremlin. The main priest there knows us by name so we felt very at home. Which is nice, because you want to feel at home if you are away from home on Easter.

A Few Other Differences Between Russia & The States on Easter:

-In Russia, it’s normal to walk by a huge office building with an enormous pixilated projection of Jesus Christ on it

-In the States we have an “Italian Shower” where in an attempt to save time or energy you skip a shower and spray lots of perfume. Here I started practicing the “Russian Shower” where you throw on a bigger scarf to make sure it covers all of your hair

-In Russia, no one looks at you funny when you sit down at a restaurant right after church and place a basket on the table that has frosted ‘cake’ in it with a candle sticking out of it and don’t sing Happy Birthday

-In Russia, there isn’t a long awkward pause after you answer the phone with, “Xpuctoc Bockpece!” (“Christ is Risen!”)

-In Russia, you must stay out of the way of old ladies when any priest starts spraying holy water. Unless you like the taste of gravel.

A week after Easter, in answer to recent vandalism and riots againts the Church, Patriarch Kyrill called for a service in defence of the Russian Orthodox Faith. 65,000 people showed up and filled the streets in front of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. Andrei and I being two of them. Before heading out Andrei had asked, “Do you think we should get there really early?” We had no idea what to expect. The answer was yes. Most of the people had gathered by the time we got there and it was packed. But we peacefully stood on the outskirts of the crowd and watched the service, which was held primarily outside, on a jumbo screen. I don’t even think I have the right words to describe how blessed I feel that we were able to be a part of this. The happiness that exploded out of us as we joined 65 THOUSAND people in exclaiming “Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!” and recited the Symbol of Faith. The joy still lingers on and goosebumps visit my arms every once in a while when I remember some moment from that day. Despite my lapses of laziness, God continues to bring me these amazing experiences. This one came with a renewed and strengthened confidence in our faith.

I hope to be back in Burlingame for Easter next year, but if I am not, a piece of my heart will be there anyway. And a piece will be in Jerusalem and a piece will be in Moscow. And a piece will say yes all over again to the man of my dreams.

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