Vaskrs comes from the Old Slavic, meaning Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; also resurrection from the dead. In the Old Church Slavic (the official language of the Church service) it is Voskresenije. In everyday speech it is Uskrs. The old name of the holiday, still used in southern Serbia is Velikden(a Great Day).
Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Easter, is the central religious feast in Orthodox Christianity, therefore in Serbs, as well. On that day we not only remember the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, but in a miraculous way once again we stand witnesses to this greatest event in history. The Son of God was born, lived and died in His human body, just to be resurrected from the dead, thus opening a way to an eternal, divine life, filled with love to all the people who believe in Him.
After the Resurrection of Christ, people still die, but the difference between death before and after His Resurrection is, “like a difference between a horrifying fire and a flame of a candle”, as St Nicolay of Serbia said. In the world where time and death reign, Resurrection is the true life, the life that never ends.
Easter is the central moveable feast in the liturgical year. The date when Easter is celebrated differs from year to year, but is always on Sunday. Easter is preceded by the Great Lent – six weeks of active expression of faith towards God, the believers’ preparation for the feast by abstaining from food of animal origin, but above all, abstaining from selfishness. Along with the Holy Week, just before Easter, when we remember the last events in life of Jesus Christ and His death, before the greatest festival of all, the Great Lent has been going on for seven weeks.
After Good Friday, when Jesus died on the cross, on the third day, on Easter Sunday, people rejoice His Resurrection. The Fast is broken and according to an old custom, the children and the grownups crack their coloured Easter eggs among themselves, the family gather together and a special Easter feast dinner table is laid.
On that day and even for some time after it – until the Ascension Day, always on Thursday, forty days of Easter – the believers greet each other with, “Christ is risen!”, with a response, “Indeed He is risen!”.
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
(An Easter or Paschal Hymn – a short church song sung at the Paschal service)