This MultiConnexions blog was written by Lindy Ung, Social Media Specialist & Content Writer.
Hot cross buns, the Easter Bunny, Easter egg treasure hunts – these are all fond and iconic things we have all come to associate with the fun and festive holiday period known as Easter.
However, did you know that there is a ‘second’ Easter falling later in April known as ‘Pascha’ or Orthodox Easter?
Orthodox Easter is widely celebrated widely among Orthodox Christians, a form of Christianity celebrated in countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lebanon, Romania and Russia.
It is a holiday that is especially popular among the Greek community in Australia, which is the third-largest diaspora in the world and numbers over 400,000 people. Over 90% of Greeks in Australia are followers of Greek Orthodox Christianity.
Here is a guide on how the Greek community celebrates Orthodox Easter and how you can reach this growing and vibrant diaspora.
What is Orthodox Easter and why is it significant?
Orthodox Easter, also commonly known as ‘Pascha’ or ‘Greek Easter’, fell on the 24th of April this year, just one week after Easter Sunday on the 17th of April. It is celebrated by Orthodox Christians to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The holiday also marks the beginning of Great Lent, a 40-day period of reflection and fasting whereby devotees will undergo a spiritual purification of their sinful nature.
What are the dates different for Easter and Orthodox Easter?
Orthodox Easter is celebrated at a different time than Easter because Orthodox churches in countries such as Greece, Cyprus and Romania still base their Easter date on the Julian calendar.
The Julian calendar was the calendar that was developed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC and predominantly used in Europe during the 19th century. It calculates a year based on the time it takes for the sun to go around the Earth.
On the other hand, the Gregorian calendar was developed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, which incorporates a leap year to offset additional minutes and account for astronomical corrections. To this day, the Catholic Church uses the Gregorian calendar to determine holidays like Easter.
How does the Greek community celebrate Orthodox Easter?
Orthodox Easter is celebrated with great devotion and joy among the Greek community.
Preparations for Easter begin at the start of Great Lent, when Greek Orthodox Christians will fast, pray regularly, and undergo self-reflection and repentance for 40 days and during Holy week.
Traditionally, the Greek diaspora will go to church and start attending important services from Good Friday, when they will mourn the death of Christ. On Holy Saturday, a Pascha Vigil Service is held where hymns are sung to celebrate His Resurrection and fireworks may be lighted in the night sky.
Community members will also hold prayers and attend other important church services during the early morning of Easter Sunday, when celebrations officially begin.
After the fast of Lent, Greek Orthodox Christians will enjoy traditional foods such as spit-roast lamb, which is commonly served as the main dish on the menu and symbolises the Lamb of God or Christ himself. Hard-boiled eggs dyed red symbolising the blood of Christ are also eaten during the meal. Each person is served a red egg at the dinner table which is cracked against one another – the person with the last uncracked egg is said to have been blessed with good luck until the next Easter.
Tsoureki, a sweet traditional Greek Easter bread, and magiritsa, a traditional soup made of lamb, rice and dill, are further enjoyed by the Greek community during this time.
Besides feasting on Easter Sunday, Greeks also take part in customs such as drinking, singing, dancing and lighting Pascha candles to celebrate breaking the fast and their completion of the 40 days of devotion.
How can marketers embrace Orthodox Easter to engage those celebrating?
Pascha is a culturally and religiously significant time for the Orthodox community as it is a solemn period of self-examination, abstinence and spiritual strengthening of their inner lives during which they establish a closer connection with God. Following the Lenten Fast, it is also a celebration of their fulfilment of their sacred duties.
Marketers seeking to engage with diaspora can display goodwill by sharing Orthodox Easter greetings and messages with the community in their campaigns and marketing communications including social media.
Community engagement and building relations with cultural associations, Orthodox Christian churches, business and community leaders and media outlets is also important to reach and engage the diaspora in Australia.
With many Orthodox Christians reconnecting with family and exchanging blessings and gifts during Orthodox Easter, initiating PR activation events revolving around Pascha is also a great way to build grassroots engagement. These events can include sponsoring cultural festivals or hosting Easter themed events.
Interested in connecting with Australia’s multicultural populations? Contact us at https://www.multiconnexions.com.au/.