World View: Orthodox Christians Celebrate the Holy Fire Ceremony at Easter

World View: Orthodox Christians Celebrate the Holy Fire Ceremony at Easter

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter
  • Ukraine calls an Easter Truce
  • Japan to set up an army radar base near China

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter

The Holy Fire ceremony is possibly the most impressive celebration inall of Christianity, and is performed each year for Orthodox Easter,which occurs this year on April 20. (This is one of the rare yearswhere the Orthodox and Catholic Easters coincide.)

On Saturday morning, Orthodox clergymen break the seal of the door toChrist’s tomb in Jerusalem and descend into the chamber. After awhile, they emerge with lit candles. Believers say that the “HolyFire” appears spontaneously from the tomb on the day before Easter toshow Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The fire is passed from candle to candle, and is flown to Athens andother cities, so that the Holy Fire can be shared by thousands ofworshippers. In Athens, the ceremony begins at 11 pm on Saturday,when practically the entire country is in church. At midnight, thelights are turned off, and everyone’s candle is lit with the Holy Firefrom the priest’s candle, as the priest says, “Christ has risen fromthe dead and in so doing has trampled on death and to those in thetombs he has given life.” Then people head home with their litcandles, and the entire city is lit by the candles with the Holy Fire.The ceremony dates back to the fourth century, and possibly as earlyas the first century. and Greece Travel

Ukraine calls an Easter Truce

Ukraine’s government in Kiev has announced an Easter truce in iteastern Ukraine. According to Thursday’s agreement between Russia,Ukraine and the West, such operations may be illegal anyway.

The pro-Russian separatists continue to refuse to leave the buildingsthey occupy or remove the blockades they set up, as called for inThursday’s agreement.

However, the separatists are said to be disappointed that a new pollindicates that 57.2% of the people in Donetsk, the center of the eastUkraine activists, say that Kiev has not violated their rights, and66.3% say they are against a Russian military intervention. BBC and AFP

Japan to set up an army radar base near China

In a move that will surely infuriate the Chinese, Japan on Saturdaybroke ground for a new radar station and army base on Yonaguni island,which is Japan’s westernmost inhabited island, and is closer to Taiwanand China than it is to mainland Japan. It has a population of 1,500,down from about 15,000 at the end of World War II.

According to Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera:

“This is the first deployment since the US returnedOkinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing.I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands thatare part of Japan’s territory.”

Building the base will extend Japanese monitoring to the Chinesemainland and allow it to track Chinese ships and aircraft circling thedisputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Opinion among residents of Yonaguni island is split, with opponentsfearing that the base will one day bring a military attack, andproponents hoping that the radar base will bring young soldiers andnew money, and will breathe life into the wilting economy. Japan Times and Reuters and The Diplomat

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