Easter in Ukraine

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Easter is the most cheerful holiday for all Christian people. This is the day when Jesus Christ resurrects from death, according to the Bible beliefs. Date of Ukrainian Easter celebration differs from the Easter date determined by the other Christian Churches, because it is set in accordance with Orthodox Church. Usually, the date of celebration of Easter in Ukraine is preceded by seven weeks of Lent and celebrated on each first week after vernal equinox and full moon. Easter in Ukraine is a cycle of Church holidays. There are several days during this cycle that require great attention: Willow Sunday (Verbna Nedilia), Maundy (Chystyi) Thursday, Good (Strasna) Friday.

On Willow Sunday, in a week before Easter people bless pussy-willow branches in Church and take them at home.

Easter in Ukraine
Willow Sunday

Maundy Thursday

  • On Maundy Thursday Ukrainians take shower before dawn and clean their houses for this forthcoming blessed day.

Good Friday

  • On Good Friday no work should be done. Good Friday is closely connected with different restrictions and limits in household and food. For example, it is thought that if you don’t eat all Friday, or even from Friday to Sunday God forgives all your sins. This belief is based upon the fact of crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on Calvary. By following this restriction in food we share Jesus’ suffering and bless him.

Saturday

  • On Saturday people gather in the church for the Easter vigil till the very morning. Once service is over people bless pysanky, kulichi and other food they have brought. Then people go home to celebrate the Holy Sunday. Easter greeting in Ukraine for this day is “Christ is risen!” – “Risen indeed”.

Ukrainian Easter is called “Velykden” (The Great day). Of course, Ukrainians follow all the international and common traditions accepted for this day, however there are a lot of other custom and folk traditions of celebration Easter in Ukraine. Among them are painted eater eggs, called “Pysanka” and Easter bread called “Culich”.

Easter in Ukraine. What is Pysanka?

Easter in Ukraine
Pysanky

Pysanka is traditional Ukrainian Easter egg colored and decorated with Ukrainian ornament. As a rule, pysanky were made by women during the last week of Lent, Holy Week in the Orthodox and Greek Catholic calendars. During the middle of the Lenten season, Women started putting aside smooth and shaped eggs of young hens during the middle of Lenten season. Only fertilized eggs should have been used for pysanky writing, because unfertilized egg may bring misfortune at home. Ukrainian pysanky have been made using raw eggs only. While painting Ukrainian women prayed.

Easter in Ukraine

Traditionally Ukrainian Easter eggs are colored in red. However, Pysanka is more than just a colored egg, it is a part of Ukrainian culture and art. There is a museum of Ukrainian Pysanka. If you are interested in visiting Pysanka museum you can take a 3D tour and look through the exposition here. Usually it is decorated with Ukrainian folk design using wax-resist method. The word “pysanka” comes from the word “pysaty” which means “write” from Ukrainian. A name of Ukrainian Easter egg may differ depending on a region you are located. Writing pysanky is a special ritual, which can be different in each family and every village. Ukrainian Easter egg designs underwent a process of adaptation over the time. However, the only thing that remains unchanged is a symbolism. Of course, the name and meaning of various symbols may differ from region to region, but there is the most popular classification:

  • Geometric design;
  • Berehynia (Guard);
  • Christian symbols;
  • Plant motifs;
  • Agriculture motifs;
  • Animal motifs;
  • Cosmomorphic motifs.

Colors for each pysanka design are chosen carefully, because all the colors in Ukrainian pysanka writing have different meanings.

Easter in Ukraine. What is Kulich?

Easter in Ukraine
Kulich

Kulich is a traditional Ukrainian Easter bread. It is a sweet bread baked in a tall tin and decorated with raisins, colorful flowers, sugar powder. It should be blessed by a priest in church and eaten before breakfast in the Easter morning. Ukrainian Easter bread is an important part of Easter table. Each family has  own receipt of kulich, which is guarded and kept in secret.