Celebrating Easter in Ukraine

Dear friends,

Today, I tell you about celebrating Easter in Ukraine. The Ukrainian people celebrate Easter as the most important holiday in their country. Called “Velikden” (The Great Day) the Easter celebration spans many days as a religious holiday. On Palm Sunday, called Willow day in the Ukraine, willow branches are blessed by the church and then spread throughout the church. The use of the willow tree started in pagan times because the tree was the first to start regrowth and was believed to have magical healing qualities. The branches are kept in the church until the following Easter when they are replaced with fresh branches.

easter in ukraine

Easter in Ukraine

Celebrating Easter in the Ukraine involves using the entire week prior to Easter Sunday as a time to cleanse both physically and spiritually. Work is forbidden after Thursday as Friday is the anniversary of the crucifixion. During Easter, people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek and calling out “Иисус воскрес” (Iisus voskres “Christ has Risen” to which the other person replies “Воистину воскрес” (Voistinu voskres “Truly arisen”).

Food and feasting play a major part in celebrating a Ukrainian Easter. Traditional delights include Paska, sweet egg bread decorated on top with religious symbols. Baskets of blessed foods are given after Easter church services. A variety of foods fills the baskets but include sucking pig, breads, butter and poppy seeds enclosed in napkins. Easter eggs reach a new height of beauty with various decorative methods used.

Pysanka eggs

Pysanka eggs

Pysanka eggs are decorated by writing batik symbols in wax on the egg before dying. There are thousands of designs, and different colors have different meanings. These eggs are given to special family and friends as gifts. Pysanka eggs are very important to the Ukrainian Easter culture. A legend associated with the eggs assures that as long as the traditions of these eggs continue evil will never completely overtake the world.

Other methods involve a series of dots or scratches. In addition, eggs are dyed all once color with dye. This method is called krashanky and is the only type of Easter egg actually eaten. The other methods are used only as unique and colorful Easter decorations. The yolk and egg white is usually blown out of the egg before it is decorated.

Iisus voskres! 🙂



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