Easter: the Main Ukrainian Holiday
Each country has been writing its own little story since the beginning of its existence. The history of people and places, traditions and events. Traditions have been an important aspect of life for Ukrainians since ancient times. The preservation of these traditions has been passed down from generation to generation, from parents to children, from heart to heart.
Holidays in Ukraine are a special part of life for us. Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, is considered a favorite, and it is also celebrated all over the world. It is the oldest and most important Christian holiday. A large number of nationalities and religions coexist peacefully in Ukraine, but most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christian. We will share a little more about Orthodox traditions.
Easter is an extremely solemn and pleasant period, when a festive spirit hovers in the air. When families get together. When everyone can become a part of wonderful sacraments and traditions, the preparations and sublime atmosphere. The date changes from year to year, as Easter is on the Sunday after the first full moon that comes after the vernal equinox. It was on this day that Jesus Christ was resurrected. The day also symbolizes the general renewal and revival of the world. The holiday’s main symbol in Ukraine, of course, is the church service, which takes place with certain festivities. After all, this holiday is the biggest event of the religious year. The fire of lighted candles symbolizes God’s Light, from which all believers can light their own candles and carry them home. The service ends with Easter bells, marking the arrival of the holy day.
Easter in Ukraine is always a holiday and a day off. If you are going to move to Kyiv, you will definitely find something to do in your leisure time on these days. Church celebrations, interesting events, and active life delight the city’s residents, although many people go out of town or to relatives to share the holiday with loved ones. Easter lasts three days, so you will have enough time to enjoy traditional rites and festivities. Ukrainians begin preparing a few days before the holiday. They tidy up the house, buy everything they need, and, of course, prepare delicious holiday meals.
The main food is paska, a traditional Easter bread similar to a round tall cake, which is covered with sweet icing or decorated to one’s liking. It symbolizes the life of Christ among men. Children (and adults, too) especially like to eat the tastiest treat, the Easter cream. It is sweet and comes with various additives: raisins, dried apricots, nuts … Nowadays, Easter paska is evolving and acquiring new forms, appearance, and ingredients. But in any manifestation, it still remains a symbol of the holiday.
Easter eggs are considered the second dish: boiled eggs dyed in different colors. From ancient times, women collected onion peels before Easter to color their eggs. Many traditionalist maintain this method, although there is a large selection of special dyes that can be purchased in stores. Easter eggs that are painted by hand with ornaments and drawings are called pysanky. When this tradition was just emerging, decorated Easter eggs were not as exact as they are today, when egg painting has become an art. There are even special master classes on painting Easter eggs. If you have recently changed your place of residence and want to get acquainted with the culture of Ukrainians, you should try this exciting activity. Festive eggs are also associated with a special custom: at the table during the Easter meal, it is traditional to “fight” with the colorful eggs. Two people each take an Easter egg and alternately knock the upper and lower ends against each other’s egg. The winner is the one whose Easter egg remains intact. In this case, you can compete with someone else until the shell cracks. This is a fun activity that accompanies every Easter meal.
In addition to the main two dishes, Ukrainians serve a variety of meat dishes, farmer’s cheese casserole, salo (pork fat), horseradish, holodets (aspic), varenyky (dumplings), stewed cabbage, and everything the soul desires. In Kyiv, restaurants offer a wide selection of Easter pastries and even special offers: Easter baskets with traditional dishes. If desired, you can buy everything you need and be relaxed around the holiday table.
If you live in the heart of Kyiv, then you will be lucky to be in the thick of Easter traditions and celebrations. After all, the capital’s main temples are here: St. Sophia, St. Michael’s, and Volodymyrsky Cathedrals and St. Andrew’s Church. People go there to consecrate their baskets, filled with Easter cakes, Easter eggs, and other delicacies. They light a candle and wait for the priests to generously sprinkle everyone with holy water, saying the Easter greeting three times: “Khrystos Voskres” (“Christ is Risen”), to which people solemnly respond, “Voistynu Voskres” (“Indeed He has Risen”). It is customary to greet each other with these words throughout the Easter period. When people’s voices are intertwined, when everyone feels involved in the bright and important holiday, there is a strong sense of unity and peace.
When you wake up on Sunday, you can start the holiday feast. Easter Sunday symbolizes purification of the soul, so you need to meet it with bright thoughts. On this day, you cannot quarrel and swear, and all insults should be forgiven and forgotten. Before the festive meal, a prayer is traditionally recited, and the first thing to taste is the consecrated Easter paska. And then everyone chooses what they want for themselves and enjoys the flavors of Easter dishes prepared from the soul. The joyful atmosphere of the coming Easter brings pleasant and precious emotions, and charges us with festive energy until next year. You can definitely feel it in full.