Sophia is a recent graduate of Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts, and is currently searching for a job that will allow her to pursue her passion for writing. During her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with friends.
Bright Week is a very special time during the ecclesiastical year and not because it is one of the few weeks with no fasting. At Hellenic College Holy Cross, Bright Week is a joyous celebration and a literal “bright spot” amongst the hardship of school. The HCHC chapel is covered in flowers. The floor has so many flower petals on it that it is practically stained purple. Flowers are woven around the columns, and all the icons are surrounded with bouquets of beautiful roses and other floral arrangements.
Each vespers service starts with the joyous singing of “Christos Anesti” and the singing of the English version “Christ is risen.” Surrounded by the look and smell of flowers, along with such beautiful chanting, is sure to “brighten” anyone’s day. On Thursday some of the students rang small bells during part of the service, which gave it an even more festive feel.
I had never been to a service with little bells ringing before. It really added to the celebratory and almost magical effect of the service, and it was a very nice surprise for me. I am sure other churches do this during Bright Week, as well, but having only been to HCHC’s Bright Week weekday services, this is the only time I have heard/witnessed this magical experience.
The chapel is not the only thing on campus that is getting into the spirit of Bright Week. Many students and faculty alike dress in bright (often white) clothing items to mark the occasion. People here are always smiling and saying “Christos Anesti” and “Alithos Anesti” to each other. (Most times in Greek but also in English or Arabic too). For me personally, it is a time to reflect on what I learned during Lent and to slowly learn to integrate meat into my diet again. (I had my first cheeseburger since Lent on Tuesday—it was amazing).
The Gift of Fellowship
On a more serious note, I have also really enjoyed just being able to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with such a large number of people every day. Now that I am a senior in college I have come to realize that I may have taken HCHC for granted in this respect. Other college campuses don’t celebrate Bright Week. For the rest of the non-orthodox world, Easter is long over ,and they are already on to the next thing.
At no other college can I greet both teachers and students alike with “Christos Anesti.” They would probably look at me like I was crazy anywhere else. To be able to celebrate Bright Week in all of its glory is truly a blessing. Also, to be able to go to Bright Week Vespers every evening and Bright Week Orthros (most) mornings is a privilege that I am trying to not take for granted anymore. Things will be very different for me on next year’s Bright Week, but I know I will always remember HCHC’s Bright Week(s) in my heart. It has been a truly special part of my Orthodox journey.
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