Bright Week is the first week that follows the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and ends the next Sunday, which is also called “St. Thomas Sunday” (in commemoration of Apostle Thomas’ request for physical proof of the Resurrection of Christ). For Orthodox Christians, Bright Week is the beginning of a celebration period that lasts for fifty days from Easter to Pentecost, which marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
Bright Week is a triumph of the light and the first divine service of this period begins with the words ”Come ye and receive Light!’ Christ emerges from the grave shrouded in the holy light of His Godly nature. From Resurrection night till the Lord’s Ascension to Heaven on the 40th day of Easter, the community in church sings “Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you,” with the new Jerusalem signifying the eternal eschatological Jerusalem.
Bright Week services are celebrated with the Holy Doors wide open, so that nothing impedes the gaze into the altar, which symbolizes the door rolled away from the Saviour’s grave, but also the top-to-bottom tearing of the curtain of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Redeemer’s death, as a prefiguring of the establishment of the Kingdom of Grace.
In the first centuries of Christianity, during Bright Week, the catechumens (those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Baptism) were baptized on Easter night, and wore white robes as a symbol of the joy of the Resurrection.
The most important holiday during Bright Week is Healing Spring Day, celebrated on Friday, and which highlights the position and role of Virgin Mary in the work of Salvation.
The customary greeting for Christians during Pascha is “Christ is Risen!”, followed by the answer “Truly He is Risen!”; on Ascension Day, the salute is ”Christ is Ascended!”, to which the response is “Truly He is Ascended!”