Most of the world's Christians celebrated Easter Sunday last week, but the Orthodox churches of the world celebrated this Sunday with massive feasts and prayer to commemorate the end of Lent and the ascension of Jesus Christ to Heaven. Because Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar, they celebrate their holy commemorations on days different than most Christians, who follow the Gregorian calendar.
The Orthodox church is the third largest Christian church in the world with 200 million to 300 million followers. It is based mostly in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Balkans. Thousands of faithful descend on Jerusalem to take part in ceremonies and processions to mark Easter. Typically, the leaders of each regional Orthodox Church, like Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, preside over an Eastern Mass. They are often attended by heads of state and other political leaders. Christian worshippers pray in front of the Stone of Anointing, where Christians believe the body of Jesus was prepared for burial, before Easter Sunday mass procession inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city April 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen
Christian worshippers light candles in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, before Easter Sunday mass procession inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attended services in their respective regional churches. Putin attended mass at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, while Poroshenko attended mass at Volodymysky Cathedral in Kiev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles at a service at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow on Sunday.Photo: Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
Christ the Saviour Cathedral, just a few blocks from the Kremlin, is a Moscow landmark. Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a service there on Sunday, presided over by Patriarch Kirill.Photo: Reuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his wife Maryna attend a service at Volodymysky Cathedral in Kiev Sunday.Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko
Believers take part in a festive procession during celebrations in the Russian far eastern city of Vladivostok, April 12, 2015.Photo: Reuters/Yuri Maltsev
Believers take Easter eggs in Vladivostok, April 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Maltsev
Easter eggs are actually a religious part of Eastern Orthodox Easter and are handed out in the millions on Easter. In some Orthodox Churches, all of them are painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ, according to Demitrios Golfos, a pastoral assistant at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Mobile, Alabama.
People walk under an installation made of painted wooden eggs, attributes of the Orthodox Easter, in central Kiev, April 10, 2015.Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko
Imran, 3, from the Ukrainian Orthodox community living in Turkey stands next to baskets of "paskha" cakes and eggs during the Easter service at the Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, April 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Murad Sezer
Lebanese Christian sisters hold their painted eggs during Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations after an Easter service at St. George church in central Beirut, April 12, 2015.Photo: Reuters/Jamal Saidi
Many Orthodox faithful have been involved in the Holy Week ceremonies as well, which are similar to the Catholic Holy Week events held last week. On Good Friday, Orthodox Christians from around the world gathered on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem for a large procession to commemorate the path Jesus took to his crucifixion. Others held ceremonies depicting the events of the crucifixion.
Christian worshippers Friday retraced the route Jesus took along Via Dolorosa to his crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter. Photo: Reuters/Baz Ratner
Greek Orthodox clergy carry a cross down the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday in Jerusalem, April 10, 2015.Photo: Reuters/Baz Ratner
A Serbian Orthodox Christian reacts during a procession down Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa on Good Friday, April 10, 2015.Photo: Reuters/Baz Ratner