MOSCOW, May 1. /TASS/. Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter - the main religious holiday of the year. The resurrection of Christ according to the Julian calendar is celebrated in about 70 countries around the world with Orthodox churches and communities.
A magnificent and fascinating Easter service is held in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the head of Russian Orthodox Church, leads the service broadcast live by federal television channels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife, as well as the mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin attend the Easter service at the Cathedral among hundreds of worshippers.
President Putin regularly visits churches during major religious holidays. He usually celebrates Easter in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, Christmas - usually in churches outside of the capital. Prime Minister Medvedev always comes to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour for celebration of church holidays.
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.
On Sunday Patriarch Kirill will contact the International Space Station (ISS) to congratulate Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. Last year, Easter coincided with the Cosmonautics Day - April 12, and the Patriarch congratulated the ISS crew on two holidays at once.