Ostern – Easter – Пасха

Hello, dear readers,

I have made so many experiences in the last 30 years, which I would like to share with you. Nowadays it is becoming more and more important to acquire certain ‘intercultural competence’ and I would like to contribute to this and introduce you to a few elements of intercultural living together.

I spent more than 14 years in Eastern countries and then returned to Germany. This included the territories of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Middle East (MEA & MENA). It took some time before I was able to settle down and get used to my ‘home country’. Although I was born in Germany, it sometimes seemed to me as if I was a stranger in my own country. Even today, I sometimes have the feeling that I am not in the right place, but this feeling is getting weaker. I have learned that there is something positive and negative everywhere in the world and in every country. I am a person who prefers to accept the positive, recognize the negative and try to change. I don’t always succeed, but at least I do my best.

The Russian Easter

My blog entry today is about Easter. I am a religious person and have learned to appreciate Easter very much, especially in the last years. Even when I lived in Moscow the relationship of Russians to religion has changed a lot. Communism as a form of society gave religious belief little opportunity to develop. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union this situation began to change. It was not only socially accepted when you went to church, it was almost expected. Especially during the Easter time one could notice this.

40 days before Easter the ‘Velikij Post’ (Russian: Великий Пост)- the big Easter fast begins. In the orthodox church this means in the today’s sense a vegan eating behavior (renouncement of all animal proteins), alcohol, sweets and still other amenities of the everyday life;-). I had never actually fasted consciously, but fasting was part of my life, but this was more for my physical health. I still do this today, but mostly in connection with the big Easter fast. Since I am a Catholic, I have imposed my own annual ‘fasting program’ on myself. This includes: No meat or fish products, no alcohol and only limited sweets (which I don’t really like anyway). It is good for me and my body to take some time out. I travel a lot in other countries, where I eat different food, have to deal with different time and climate zones, and my body and mind are already feeling a lot.

Religious holidays in times of pandemic

This year, the Easter of the ‘Western Church’ (according to the Julian calendar) and the ‘Easter Church’ (according to the Gregorian calendar) do not fall on the same date. This is usually the case. Relatively rarely do both Easter feasts fall in the same period. For me, having both feasts at the same time is a beautiful sign in a time of volatility, doubt and the constant highlighting of our differences. Especially this year, religious festivals will be a great challenge, because the Corona pandemic is ruling the world. This is the first time that Muslim believers will see Mecca orphaned on television. The blessing ‘Urbi et Orbi’ is spoken without the presence of the faithful. Only the Orthodox Church is convinced that a serious believer defies the virus with its prayers and that holy water in the streets is the cure-all. In general, I think, it can’t hurt, but I consider it grossly negligent to hold church services during this time.

Easter time – a time of rest and reflection

But in short: my long stay in Russia and Georgia has encouraged me to take this time of rest and also to reflect mentally, to think about my life and to put some things back in order. But especially in the present crisis, I feel the fasting even more intense than the years before. I am convinced that this year I will come out of the Easter Lent stronger and I am full of energy to strike new shores. I hope that you will feel the same.

Stay healthy and see you soon here. 

Yours, Waltraud