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Easter (Սուրբ Զատիկ Soorp Zadig)

This central feast of the Armenian Church commemorates the Resurrection (Յարութիւն Harootyoon) of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose on the third day. It is celebrated between March 22 and April 25. In the early church there was much discussion and debate as to the proper day for the celebration of Easter: should it be on the day of the Judaic Feast of Passover or on the closest Sunday thereto? In 325 A.D. the Ecumenical Council of Nicea decided that the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ should be celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. Why Sunday? Because Christ rose from the dead on the 3rd day after Passover, which is Sunday, which was until then called the first day of the week, and since then is referred to by Armenians as the Day of the Lord (giragi կիրակի, from the Greek word kyrios 'Lord', as in kyrie eleison, 'Lord, have mercy').

Easter is the culmination of the 40 day period of Lent (Պահք Bahk) and then Holy Week (Աւագ Շաբաթ Avak Shapat), the most solemn week of the year in the Armenian Church. This was traditionally a time of pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Since the 4th century, the Armenians have had special rights to observe various Holy Week ceremonies at Christ's tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Holy Week and Easter services are among the most beautiful and significant in our Church. On Palm Sunday (Ծաղկազարդ Dzaghgazart), palms are distributed to the faithful. Holy Week services include the Washing of the Feet (Ոտնլուայ Vodnlva), Vigil (Խաւարում Khavaroom (darkness)), Christ's Crucifixion (Խաչելութիւն Khachelootyoon) and His Burial. On Easter Sunday, Easter lilies adorn the altar. The most popular custom associated with Easter in the Armenian Church is the coloring of eggs. Families would color eggs and gift them to relatives and friends they visited. The cracking of dyed Easter eggs (traditionally in red) is also part of the custom.

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