26 April 201909:29

"Russian Coffee Morning"

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«Dear Emilia,

Distinguished colleagues,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It is indeed a great pleasure to see you respond to our invitation for this event. I am especially pleased to welcome my esteemed colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps and all of you here this morning.  

Let me, first of all, thank the Dobredojde Macedonia Welcome Centre and its President Emilija Miladinova Avramcheva for a proposal to the Russian Embassy to
co-organize a traditional Coffee Morning and her encouragement and support to make it happen – notwithstanding fairly tight agenda and stretched personnel resources of, I am sure, any Embassy. It was just natural that in anticipation of the forthcoming Feast we decided to dedicate it to “Traditions of celebrating the Orthodox Easter in Russia”. I do note her kind words and take them as a credit for our future joint work.

Obviously, traditions of celebrating Easter have centuries-long roots in North Macedonia. For the Macedonians, as well as for the Russian people, Easter is the biggest holiday on the Orthodox calendar. This is why we call it the Feast of Feasts.

The great holiday of Easter has special spiritual meaning, carries the eternal light of faith, fills peoples’ hearts with joy, love and their aspirations for good. Easter celebrations, widely held all over our countries, remind us of the multi-century traditions of our ancestors, serve to strengthen the ever-persistent moral values and ideals of the societies.

It is indisputable that our brotherly peoples have much in common and are united by close spiritual and cultural ties which go back many centuries. This represents a solid base for further enhancement and improvement of relations for the benefit of both our peoples.

However, there are still some differences, including as it concerns Easter celebration. These differences, however, represent opportunity, not obstacle and prove that we have great potential to continue to enrich each other by drawing on beautiful traditions and significant experiences.

Today is Holy Thursday when we paint and decorate Easter eggs. For the Russian people, Easter eggs are the most important part of the holiday meal. Hard-boiled eggs are traditionally dyed red by using onion peals – they symbolize resurrection and new life. Exchanging eggs is one of the most popular Easter traditions.

We also refer to this day as to “Clean Thursday” since Russians are supposed to thoroughly clean their homes on that day.

On Easter morning, most families in Russia, no matter how religious they are, will probably enjoy a traditional breakfast of eggs, kulitch – a special kind of festive brioche, and paskha – a pyramid-shaped cake made of cottage cheese and raisins. Even though food stores offer ready-made kulichi and paskhas, many people prefer to make them using family recipes that pass down from generation to generation.

Russians rarely stay at home on Easter. This holiday is all about family gatherings and festive dinners. So throughout the day people exchange Easter eggs, kiss each other on the cheek three times saying “Christ is Risen!” to each other, responding with “He is Risen Indeed!”

Act of worship is of great importance. Sunrise services in Russia are not common on Easter morning. Instead churches hold a midnight liturgy, with a procession around the church.  When the clock strikes midnight, church bells announce the Resurrection of Christ. An intensely joyful Orthodox liturgical chant can be heard throughout the streets until the end of Easter liturgy.

Easter in Russia is a lot more than a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a long and fixed tradition and perhaps the only religious holiday that somehow was celebrated even during the Soviet times. Thanks to the older generations, many Soviet children, even though raised in an atheistic environment, knew about such Easter traditions as coloring eggs, baking kulich and making paskha. All this is still a part of how we celebrate Easter in Russia today.

We have prepared two short films, one – with subtitles and an other – a shorter one – in English, about traditions of celebrating Easter in Russia and traditional Easter food. Nevertheless, we understand that these films will give you only a general view of the Russian traditions while, in fact, they are much richer and deeper.

The Embassy intends to do its best to provide for the people of North Macedonia with opportunities to get to know better our traditions, our rich culture, literature, music, science. And it goes without saying – the Russian language – an indispensable tool to get acquainted with all of this.

I speak English now but I am sure if I were to speak Russian many of you present – not only from North Macedonia but from other countries – would understand me fairly well. I hope that we will be able to ensure pass this knowledge of the language to our children – the future does belong to them.

By the way, our cooperation should indeed be a two-way street. This year Days of Macedonian culture are planned to take place in Russia, which, I am certain, will help the Russian people to appreciate Macedonian traditions. Working together, we will be able to promote and strengthen our cultural, educational and humanitarian ties.

And one more thing. Although today’s event is dedicated to the Orthodox traditions, I should note Russia – like North Macedonia – is a multi-national and multi-confessional country where many national, ethnic and religious groups peacefully coexist and co-work for centuries. Mutual respect for other nations and other traditions is an organic part of our Foreign Policy enshrined in its very philosophy.

In conclusion allow me to congratulate you, dear guests, on this forthcoming Easter holiday. I wish you all good health, prosperity, success and all the very best to you and your families and all those dear to you.

And of course, samples of traditional Russian Easter food – Kulitch (Easter cake) and hand-painted eggs prepared by my Chef – shall be presented to you during the course of the event.

Now I would like to invite you to watch the short films I mentioned and then have a moment of quality time with friends over a cup of tea or coffee and some snacks.»

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