28 April 2008

Easter Confusion

1. I did get "Christ is Risen"-ed several times yesterday - mostly by text message, which is of course the classiest way to spread the jubilation - and replied correctly. However, in case there are any nitpickers out there, I should mention that the version of the greeting I wrote in my last post is the Old Church Slavic version, and so far I've found the modern Russian version ("Христос воскрес!/Воистину воскрес!," without the hard sign or the "e" on the end) to be more common. But, Old Church Slavic being the language of the Orthodox Church, the former is what you'll find on banners hanging outside churches, decorated Easter eggs, etc.

2. The lovely giant cupcake I photographed last time, and subsequently ate half of: kulich, right? Right, and wrong! I later had two different people tell me that Easter bread is actually called paskha. Confusing, since I thought paskha was the pyramid-shaped lump of curd cheese and sugar. Finally a third person explained that the pyramid-shaped lump is cheese paskha (творожная пасха); kulich that's shaped like it was baked in a coffee can may be called kulich but is normally called (non-cheese) paskha; and loaf-shaped kulich is just kulich. However, I'm not sure that explanation holds water with everyone.

My conclusion is that there's a confusion in terminology that was probably brought about by a long period of non-celebration of Easter. This sort of phenomenon - where different people within one community have different traditions or different words for those traditions, and they all believe their version to be the historically correct one - seems awfully familiar to me, but I can't put my finger on an exact example from U.S. culture.

3. My opinion on the subject of drunk men on Easter was apparently incorrectly informed by my Western conception of piety. While I did not get hassled by any hooligans on the street, a friend of mine went to Easter service (at 3 am! yikes!) and reported that the majority of worshipers were, in fact, drunk men. Hmm. Guess that Lenten fasting can really get to you...

The same friend also gave me a mini-kulich (or paskha) she had made herself, as well as a pair of totally awesome woven Turkmen slippers her (Turkmen) dad had brought back from Turkmenistan! Aww. People are so nice to me here.

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