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What is Bright Week?

What is Bright Week? 0

 

 Decorating Bright Week candles during the Spring Season is a daily task. I often find myself reminiscing back to the time when I made the first ‘Bright Week Candles’ for our parish bookstore.  

 



 It has been over 12 years since I was in charge of our church bookstore ordering books, icons, and other religious items used by Orthodox Christians in their homes.


 Once a year for Easter (known as ‘Pascha’ to Orthodox Christians), I would work with other volunteers to make “Bright Week” Candles  (we referred to them as Resurrection Candles at the time).  We decorated the six-day glass candles with various religious items (crosses or prayer ropes), spring flowers, etc. and sold them through the bookstore.  They were offered to our church parishioners and visitors during Holy Week to bring the Holy Light home safely in their cars after the Resurrection Liturgy on Holy Saturday night. The idea to offer Bright Week Candles came from our parish priest and I felt it was one of the most innovative ideas! 


 An ‘adult’ version of the decorated Easter Candles allows safe bringing of the Holy Light to our homes.  These  brightly decorated glass candles will remain lit for 6 consecutive days and come with a keepsake gift.  They are small enough in size to fit in your car’s cup holders for careful transporting from church to home. Their raised glass brim also helps to protect the flame from the wind.


Why the name “Bright Week’ Easter Candles?


 Well, it would have been easy to call these candles ‘Easter Candles’ or ‘Resurrection Candles’, but it didn’t quite seem to fit their purpose. Working with my brother-in-law at the time, trying to figure out what we would name these candles, he brought to my attention that the week following Easter was referred to as “Renewal Week'' or “Bright Week”. Not being Orthodox himself, he was doing some searching online.  (Shame on me for not knowing all this 🙂.)  ‘Bright Week’ , we thought, is the perfect name for these candles since they will be glowing most of the week after Pascha.


What is Bright Week?


 You might be reading all of this and wondering what even is “Bright Week”? 


 As referenced above, “Bright Week”, sometimes referred to as”Pascha”, “Resurrection”, “Renewal” or even in some cases “White” Week, is the name used to signify the week following Pascha.


 Bright Week is a significant time in the Orthodox Church. It begins Easter Sunday and goes through, but does not include, the following Sunday, the Sunday of Thomas. This entire week, considered to be the holiest week of the liturgical year, is to be set aside by Orthodox Christians as a time for celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. 


 This week is significantly different from most other weeks as it is set apart by special services, hymns, and traditions that all reflect the triumph of life over death, light over darkness. This week also marks the beginning of the 50 day liturgical season known as the Pentacost.


Where does the name “Bright Week” Originate from?


 

 The name could originate from many things. 


 In ancient times, the newly Baptized Catechumens from Holy Saturday would wear all white baptismal gowns for the week following Easter. The white color of the robes fills the church with a bright white color, hence, “White Week”. 


 Others believe it is called Bright Week for this time is new and joyous, as Christ has Risen and cleansed our sins. A time where death and mourning are shattered yielding happiness and love. 


 While there could be many reasons for the naming, it’s most important to note that this week after Pascha is meant to be a celebratory time, rejoicing in the beauty and glory of the Resurrection of Christ.


“Fun Facts” about Bright Week

  • During all of Bright Week the Holy Doors on the Iconostasis are kept open—the only time of the year when this occurs. The open doors represent the stone rolled away from the Tomb of Christ, and the Epitaphios representing the burial clothes, is visible through them on the Holy Table (altar).
  • There is no fasting observed during this week! Due to the ending of the Lenten fast, gatherings amongst families and friends are common and complete with traditional and festive meals.
  • The resurrection of Christ is an event that transcends time and space, therefore, “Bright Week” is referred to as “one continuous day.” Services and hymns are repeated each service of each day.
  • Special Services are held daily during this week and are typically shorter, more joyous, and remove all penitential references. 
  • Paschal Hymns are sung throughout this week.
  • Bright Colors such as white and gold are used to decorate the church and even in some cases, these colors adorn the priests vestments as a symbol for light and victory in Christ’s Resurrection.
  • Many Christians choose to receive baptism or chrismation during this time symbolizing their devotion to Christ and his sacrifice for our sins.
  • Funerals during Bright Week replace all the hymns of mourning with joyous hymns of the Resurrection and the hymn “Christ is Risen” is repeated constantly throughout the service. 

 

 Overall, Bright Week is a time of great spiritual significance within the Orthodox Church. It is a period of joy, renewal and hope. Believers continue to celebrate and reflect as they are reminded of the promise of eternal life through Christ’s victory over death.

 

 Spring of 2024, over 12 years since I was first introduced to the concept, Dahlia continues to offer Bright Week Candles through our shop. Besides bringing the Holy Light home safely on Holy Saturday night, these candles: 

  • Make a great centerpiece for your Easter table.
  • It is a perfect Easter Blessing gift when you visit your friends and loved ones on Pascha.
  • Can keep the flame in your home iconostasis as a blessing for six consecutive days! 
  • Be a kid this year with your own Bright Week Candle and bring God’s blessings home!

Christ is Risen!  Χριστός Ανέστη!

Truly He Is Risen!     Αληθώς Ανέστη!

  • Hope Brewer
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