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'Holy Fire' Ceremony Helps Orthodox Christians Usher In Easter

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana attend the Orthodox Easter service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on April 7.

The "Holy Fire" ceremony in Jerusalem helped Eastern Orthodox Christians usher in Easter, one week after Christians in the West also celebrated the religion's holiest day.

Some 7,000 pilgrims in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre lit their candles off of the "flame" from the "miracle light" on the night of April 7 and early morning of April 8, Easter Day.

The light emanates from the stone bed that Christian tradition believes to be the spot where Jesus's body was placed for burial.

The flame represents the resurrection of Christ and will be passed candle to candle and taken to other Orthodox churches around the world. The ritual dates back some 1,200 years.

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended services at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, where several thousand people gathered, including members of parliament.

In Kyiv, church services, festivals, and children's events were scheduled for April 8 and a holiday the following day.

Easter can occur on different days in the Gregorian (Western) and Julian (Eastern Orthodox) calendars.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, The Times Of Israel, and TASS