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Easter Labathes/Candles (Πασχαλινές λαμπάδες)

Easter Candles

The midnight Service of the Resurrection - Paska or Pascha - is the most significant religious holiday celebrated by all Orthodox around the world.

Special candles made for Easter are called Labatha and are often given as gifts to children from their parents or Godparents. These candles can be lavishly decorated. These candles are only used for one Easter midnight service.

Before the midnight service everyone goes to church late in the evening, carrying with them unlit candles. At midnight all lights are extinguished and churches are lit only by the Eternal Flame on the altar. When the clock passes midnight, the priest announces the resurrection of Christ ("Christos anesti" ~ Christ is risen) and passes the flame to the people to light their candles of the Holy Flame taken from Christ's nativity cave in Jerusalem. The flame is then passed from person to person until the church becomes lit by candlelight.

It is the custom to carry the Eternal Flame home and use it to make the sign of the cross on the door frame with the soot, to protect the house for the coming year. The smoke cross is left there throughout the year, symbolizing that the light of the Resurrection has blessed the home. The candles are put on the table for the midnight meal.

According to ancient liturgical tradition, the Paschal light is allowed to shine continuously throughout the Great Fifty Days until it is finally extinguished on Ascension Day. After that, it is removed from its place next to the altar and placed near the baptismal font. It is lighted at baptisms to remind Christians that in baptism we are crucified and raised with Jesus.

It is the responsibility of the Godparent to offer his/her Godchild the gift of an Easter Candle.  These candles can be lavishly decorated with favorite children’s heroes or storybook characters, and may be as much as three feet tall.  The candle is usually white, pink or light blue.

It is customary for the Godparent to also offer the Godchild a new pair of shoes on Easter.


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