Saint Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral

Dallas, Texas

Orthodox Church In America (OCA)

Diocese of the South

Radonitsa, the Orthodox Rejoicing Day for the Dead

You may have noticed a few liturgical differences following Great and Holy Pascha. The Great Doors remain open all week. “Christ is risen” is sung instead of many of the regular refrains. Rather than the typical hymn to the Theotokos during Divine Liturgy, we sing—to the delight of many—The Angel Cried. And there are all kinds of Easter Eggs, as it were, that you can find to mark how beautifully different life is on this side of Great Lent—on this side of the Resurrection.

One special day to note is the holiday Radonitsa (Russian: Радоница), which translates as "Day of Rejoicing." On the Tuesday after Bright Week, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates with the departed, bringing the bright light and the joy of the Resurrection to the actual graves of our loved ones. Bringing the actual foods and decorations to the cemeteries is a reminder to us and to those in the graves that our bodies—the actual bodies we have lived in on Earth—will be resurrected one day with Christ, and we will live and work and eat and drink together in our incorruptible bodies ... forever. In many ways, Radonitsa is a day for us to put into practice what we mean when we profess in the Creed, "He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; of His kingdom there shall be no end. ... I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

Crosses with white scarves in a cemetery

Crosses with white scarves in a cemetery

Koliva from the Pannakhida and red eggs from Pascha
icon of the resurrection
Crosses with white scarves in a cemetery
Cross with a white scarf in a cemetery
People walking toward cemetery

In the United States and throughout the world, we observe the holiday by serving Divine Liturgy and a pannikhida. In fact, it is the first time that pannikhidas are served after Pascha. For an in-depth overview of Radonitsa and a good explanation on why Orthodox Christians pray for the dead on this day and on so many others, link here to Gregory Orloff’s write-up. Readers might also enjoy author Deacon Nicholas Kotar’s blog post called How Russians Give Joy to Their Dead.

St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral will celebrate Radonitsa on Tuesday morning, beginning with Hours at 9:00 am, followed by Divine Liturgy and a pannakhida. Those who are able may caravan to cemeteries in the DFW area to honor and share the joy of Pascha with our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters gone to rest before us in the hope of the Resurrection. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!