Even luckier is a traveler who has friends among the native Ukrainians to personally participate in the celebration of Ukrainian Easter.
The Week Before Ukrainian Easter
The Ukrainian Easter day is, actually, a culmination of a long trial of preparing for this beautiful holiday.
- Willow Sunday. The Ukrainian Easter Sunday is preceded by a Willow Sunday, on which Ukrainians go to churches to bless willow branches – they serve as an analog of palm branches since this holiday is devoted to Jesus’ entering of Jerusalem.
- Clean Thursday. The next significant day preceding the celebration of Ukrainian Easter is Thursday. It is called a Clean Thursday, because on this day Ukrainians traditionally clean their houses for them to be nice and tidy for the major celebration.
- Passion Friday. A Passion Friday is the day when, according to the Orthodox believes, Christ was crucified. Ukrainians visit churches to be present at the evening service. The special Ukrainian Easter bread, paska, is also traditionally baked on this Friday before Easter.
Pysanky – Ukrainian Easter Eggs
Ukrainians have a bright and beautiful tradition of painting eggs for Easter. While some people simply paint them one color, others prepare masterpieces: traditional patterns, ornaments, and pictures painted on boiled eggs. Such decorated eggs are called “krashanky” (painted one color) or “pysanky” (colorful eggs with patterns and pictures). Eggs are also traditionally painted on Friday before Easter.
Ukrainian Easter Celebration
The major event of the Ukrainian Ester is the night church service. Many people go to church in the evening to be present during the whole service – until early morning. At the same time, many prefer to come for the culmination of the service, in the morning.
At around 3-5 AM hundreds of people can be found around each Ukrainian church. The families stand in lines that make circles around the church building. Traditional Ukrainian Easter food is laid on the mats or towels on the ground in front of the people. Bread (paskas), eggs, meat and sausages are waiting to get blessed for the Easter dinner.
The most beautiful and interesting part starts when the priest, accompanied by his assistants and a church choir, comes out of the building to greet people, and tell them that Christ has been resurrected. At this time everyone lights a candle and places it on the ground, somewhere in the midst of food. In this light of hundreds of candles the priest goes along the lines of people, blesses them with holy water, and congratulates with Easter.
So, if a visit to the Ukraine happens to take place during the Ukrainian Easter period, the traveler is sure to leave with great impressions and memories about the celebration of this beautiful holiday. Paska and Pysanky, the integral elements of Ukrainian Easter, as well as the morning church ceremony, are definitely worth seeing and experiencing.