SATURDAY, APRIL 16: The 40 days of Lent have officially ended for Eastern Christians, and today’s Lazarus Saturday is a celebration of resurrection—foreshadowing what will happen after Palm Sunday and Holy Week when Christians reach the celebration of Easter. (Western Christians count the 40 days of Lent using a different method and are on Day 34, today.)
The word “Lazarus” now defines miraculous recoveries in popular culture. According to the Bible, this friend of Jesus had died, was wrapped for burial and laid in a tomb by the time Jesus was able to reach his body and restore Lazarus to health. In his response to the situation, Jesus demonstrated both humanity and divinity—foreshadowing the human agony of the cross and Jesus’ own promise that he would return. To read more, the Orthodox Church in America has details; also the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Lazarus Saturday has several unique characteristics in the Orthodox Christian Church: It is one of two days of joy between the repentance of Lent and the sadness of Holy Week, and although the faithful are no longer following the Lenten fast, they continue to fast from meat and dairy today. (Wikipedia has more.) Lazarus Saturday is also the only day of the year when the resurrectional service of Sunday occurs on a Saturday, and Russian clergy come forth with green vestments to announce the rejuvenation of life.
Try a Lazarus Recipe: Lazarakia
Get into the spirit at home by baking a loaf of Lazarakia, a spice bread formed into the shape of a man and made only on Lazarus Saturday. A recipe is at an Orthodox mom’s blog.
LEARN ABOUT ‘THE LAZARUS EFFECT’
“The Lazarus Effect” is a phrase that has popped up both in science and science fiction over the years. In 2001, “The Lazarus Effect” is now a major campaign by (RED), HBO and other co-sponsors promoting inexpensive AIDS treatment in the third world. “The Lazarus Effect” also is the name of a documentary that shows the remarkable effect of low-cost medicines in reviving men and women. Check out “The Lazarus Effect” video at the RED website, and get more information on the film at HBO.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.