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How the world will celebrate Easter, Passover and Ramadan in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic

Followers of the three world religions celebrate important days this April: the Jews have Passover, the Christians have Easter, and the Muslims - the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. For thousands of years these days, believers gathered en masse for divine services, visited relatives and friends, exchanging congratulations and treats. But this year everything will be different. Air force.

Photo: shutterstock

For many Christians and Jews, Jerusalem was to become the center of celebration.

The first day of Passover celebrations this year is April 8th. Soon after, on April 12, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Armenians and several other branches of Christianity celebrate Easter. And a week later, on April 19, Orthodox Christians and Copts celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.

On each of these days, up to 30 pilgrims usually take to the streets of Jerusalem, but today the city is empty.

On the subject: Quarantined Easter: Online Church Services, Concerts, and Broadcasts Program

"This week is fateful"

Israeli authorities have imposed strict quarantine. From April 7 to 12, public transport does not work in the country at all. Air communication with foreign countries has been discontinued. Exceptions are made only with the special permission of the Minister of Transport.

From the evening of April 8 until the next morning in Israel it was forbidden even to leave the house on the street - there was a curfew.

“This week is crucial,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, explaining the measures introduced. - It is fateful, because in the relentless fight against the coronavirus, these days will determine the direction. Progress or retreat, and for many, life or death. ”

Israeli authorities took such tough measures after studying the experience of a month ago. Then people, observing traditions, gathered in large companies and families to celebrate Purim. After that, doctors noted a sharp increase in the number of people infected with coronavirus. Netanyahu promised that he would not allow such a scenario during the celebration of Passover.

Restrictions (although less stringent) continue to apply after the first day of the holiday.

Until April 10, the movement of any vehicles inside the cities was prohibited. Now residents are allowed to leave the house at a distance of no more than 100 meters only for going to the pharmacy or store. An exception is made for those who are sent for emergency assistance or are engaged in vital areas.

Not all Orthodox Jews supported the authorities. Israeli police reported that they had to close several synagogues in Jerusalem by force. All gathered there were fined.

"We make our way through secret gates"

Due to restrictions imposed by Israel, the ceremony of the descent of the Holy Fire could be important for Orthodox Christians.

Traditionally, it is held on Great Saturday in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem with a huge crowd of people - in recent years, more than 20 thousand people gathered in the temple. Immediately after the service, the lamps with a particularly revered fire were taken away by special flights to Russia, Greece, Serbia, Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and other countries.

“Now the gates of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are tightly closed. We make our way to the service there through various secret gates, ”the deacon of this Jerusalem temple, Alexander Zaneneonets, told the BBC.

Submitting to the requirements of the authorities, the clergy closed the church for parishioners at the end of March. But priests and deacons conduct services in a narrow circle, broadcasting some of them through the Internet.

According to a special scheme

At the ceremony of the descent of the Holy Fire this year there will be no more than 20 people - the sacristan and several more workers of the temple, Orthodox priests, hierarchs of the Armenian and Coptic churches, as well as a film crew, which will broadcast the ceremony of descent of fire for TV viewers around the world.

In order to safely transfer the lamps with fire to other countries, the Israeli Foreign Ministry proposed the following scheme:

“After the service, the priest will bring a lamp with fire to the square in front of the church, where representatives of several embassies will already be waiting for him. They, in turn, will deliver lamps with fire to Ben Gurion Airport. We have received applications and agreed upon the arrival of 10 aircraft from different countries. Their representatives will have to remain on board so as not to fall under the mandatory two-week quarantine for all arriving in Israel. Representatives of the embassies will raise the lamps with fire on board, and the planes will be able to fly away, ”Akiva Tor, head of the Department for Diaspora and World Religions at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, explained to the BBC.

Father Alexander says that such an order did not arouse indignation among him or other ministers of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

“If such steps help keep someone healthy, I consider them important and justified. We humble ourselves and follow the instructions of the Israeli authorities, ”the priest said.


The festive services of churches of the Western tradition on April 12 will also be held in a similar format - it is on this day that Catholics, Protestants and Anglicans celebrate Easter. No more than ten priests and a few journalists will be allowed to serve in Jerusalem for a TV broadcast.

A similar picture is expected in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

All Holy Week services in the Vatican are held without parishioners. In past years, in the last week before Easter, the Pope performed one of the services in a prison or hospital - this year this practice has been canceled.

St. Peter's Square, which is usually filled by tens of thousands of believers on Easter, will be empty this time. The pontiff will appeal to believers remotely.

Pope Francis said he is trying to pray more often these days. All employees in the Vatican have changed the schedule of their work and now work in shifts to maintain the necessary social distance. All meetings that are possible are held via video link.

Tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform for the faithful in Milan, a city that is at the epicenter of an epidemic in Italy. On Easter Sunday, he will sing religious hymns in the empty cathedral of the city. The performance will be broadcast live on YouTube. Bocelli told reporters that this will be his prayer for Milan and for the whole world at this painful, tragic and disturbing moment.

Since confession and sacrament of the sacrament of parishioners are now impossible, the Holy See decided to absolve all Catholics infected with the coronavirus, their relatives who treat their doctors and everyone who cares for them and runs the risk of getting infected to help their neighbor.

This decision was made at the end of March by the Apostolic Penitentiary - the department for issuing indulgences.

The document says that sins will also be forgiven to all dying Catholics who cannot be confessed because of quarantine, if they want it and if they regularly said at least some prayers in life.

The Polish prelate, Archbishop Wojciech Pole, separately called on believers not to violate the regime of self-isolation for the holidays.

“Perhaps we begin to feel anger, impatience, some kind of apathy, or, God forbid, despair. We must not give in to these feelings, said the priest. "You can't put your own life and the lives of others in danger."

In Poland, as in most other European countries, believers will not be able to consecrate traditional Easter dishes in temples. The church said that in this case, the festive table should be blessed with a prayer by the head of the family.

Greek Christians celebrating the Resurrection of Christ, like all Orthodox Christians, on April 19, will also be forced to watch Easter services at home. The authorities imposed strict restrictions on the movement of people until April 27.

The police arrange regular checks on the roads. Moving between cities is allowed only if the person returns to his permanent place of residence.

The Holy Synod of the State Church of Greece - the Archdiocese of Greece - decided to postpone the solemn all-night service of Easter on the day of this holiday - on the night of May 26-27.

Virtual easter

On April 12, the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) will celebrate Easter.

In Armenia, a state of emergency due to the coronavirus was declared in mid-March, and the clergy began to hold services behind closed doors, and parishioners in Armenia and in the diaspora watched live broadcasts on the pages of their temples on Facebook.

Divine services from the AAC spiritual center in Echmiadzin with the participation of the Catholicos of all Armenians Garegin II are broadcast on the official page of the Armenian Church.

In Russia, everything is ambiguous

Easter celebrations in the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia will definitely take place. But how celebration will be celebrated depends on the specific epidemiological situation in each region of Russia, representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate explained to the BBC.

How the Russian Church begins to celebrate Easter on April 19 will depend on the specific epidemiological situation in each region of Russia, Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy head of the church’s media relations department, said earlier to the BBC.

“Easter will be! Easter was celebrated during the plague, war and other disasters, and we will celebrate it now, ”said Vladimir Legoyda, head of the media relations department.

On March 29, Patriarch Cyril, while preaching in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, urged all Orthodox to not attend churches before a special patriarchal blessing, and also not to listen to priests who oppose quarantine measures.


The Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year will begin on April 23 or 24. Apparently, the coronavirus pandemic will force those who practice Islam to change the usual order.

By tradition, in Ramadan, believers completely refuse to eat or drink from dawn to dusk. Usually, after sunset, many Muslims rush to the mosque for prayer, and after it remain for a joint meal.

This year, mass meetings in mosques and general dinners are likely to be banned in many countries.

But the Muslims of Britain seem to have found a way out. The famous local project “Ramadan Tent” used to have a collective iftar, that is, a meal after sunset, in some famous place in London, for example on Trafalgar Square. Project participants set up tents and invited everyone to join the treat.

This year, adapting to the circumstances, they decided to conduct a virtual iftar: believers will receive parcels containing booklets with recipes, useful tips and board games for children. And Muslims will gather using video conferencing in the Zoom application.

Activists of the “Tent of Ramadan” are going to organize such virtual meetings throughout the holy month for Muslims.

During Ramadan, many believers sought to fulfill another prescription of Islam - to make a pilgrimage to the shrines in the cities of Mecca and Medina. But this year, Saudi Arabia has closed these sites for pilgrims.

Many of those who have recently traveled to holy places are trying to observe a regime of self-isolation. But not all.

For example, in Kyrgyzstan, cases were widely publicized when those who returned did not only not limit their contacts, but, on the contrary, invited friends and relatives to large feasts.

On the subject: Learning, developing and having fun: online weekend events (April 10-12)

Traditionally, those who have returned from the Hajj arrange ajy toy - a holiday in honor of a successful pilgrimage. On one of these holidays, the returning pilgrim invited more than 150 people, ignoring the order to be in self-isolation. Then it became known that he had a coronavirus. As a result, several other guests became infected, including a doctor at a local hospital.

As reported by ForumDaily:

  • A new virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. In 2020, it covered all continents except Antarctica. On March 11, US President Donald Trump imposed a ban on entering the United States from EU countries. The ban came into force on Friday, March 13, and will last at least 30 days. In particular, it will concern people who have visited the Schengen area over the past 14 days.
  • March 13 Trump due to coronavirus introduced a nationwide emergency regime in the US.
  • On March 11, WHO recognized the situation with the coronavirus pandemic, which covered more than 110 countries. Symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19 Disease Available here.
  • Virologist's tips on how to protect yourself from infection - link.
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