Easter is an eagerly awaited holiday for Orthodox Ukrainians. Preparation for it takes weeks and includes several important stages. Find out when and how Easter is celebrated in Ukraine, and how to prepare for it.
When do Ukrainians celebrate Easter?
The Feast of Resurrection of Christ refers to transitional religious holidays. This means that the celebration date is not fixed; it changes from year to year. This is because of church canons: the Orthodox Church uses the solar and lunar calendars to calculate the date of Easter, and also considers several additional criteria.
Easter always falls on a specific day of the week – Sunday. Also, it cannot be celebrated before Jewish Easter. The calculation is as follows: traditionally, the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated in the spring, namely on the first Sunday after the full moon, which follows the spring equinox.
Orthodox Ukrainians can find out in advance when Easter will be in the current or subsequent years. To do this, you need a special calendar called Paschalia, in which the dates of the Holy Resurrection of Christ have already been calculated for many years to come.
According to Christian custom, before Easter, Ukrainians hold Great Lent. This is when people limit themselves to food and entertainment and put their thoughts in order. At this time, it is worth taking communion and confessing on the eve of communion.
Fasting aims to make you pay attention to the spiritual aspects of your life: pray more, attend the temple, and go to confession and communion. Restrictions and prayings make a person more sensitive to spiritual phenomena, and strengthen spirituality and connection with God.
Then comes Lazarus Saturday, when, according to legend, Jesus resurrected the righteous Lazarus, thereby creating the miracle of the resurrection. The next day is Palm Sunday when Jesus solemnly entered Jerusalem and was recognized as the Messiah.
Then Holy Week begins. It consists of the 6 strictest days of Lent, and after that comes Easter Sunday. This week is the most significant for Orthodox Ukrainians.
During fasting, you should eat only lean food. Meat and fish products, eggs, butter, dairy products, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Also, you should not overeat even those dishes that are allowed. Permitted food includes all products of plant origin, namely fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, dried fruits, bread, cereals, tea, and water.
The last week before Easter is the most significant, unique, and solemn. During this period, Ukrainians begin the most thorough preparation for the Bright Resurrection of the Lord. Every day during Holy Week has its special meaning:
– on Great Monday, Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple and dried up the fruitless fig tree;
– on Maundy Tuesday, people remembered important parables and discussed their meaning;
– on Great Wednesday, they remember the betrayal of Judas;
– on Maundy Thursday, Christ washes the feet of his disciples as a symbol of his love and humility, and then at the Last Supper, everyone drinks wine and eats bread for unity with God;
– on Good Friday, they think about the suffering of Jesus because of the injustice of people;
– Great Saturday is known as the day of silence when the body of Jesus Christ was placed in the tomb;
– Holy Sunday is the feast of Easter, when the miracle of the resurrection of Christ happened.
Easter morning begins with greeting loved ones with the phrase “Christ is Risen!”, to which it is customary to respond, “Truly Risen!” After that, the whole family sits down at the festive table. Starting a festive breakfast with paska and krashanky and other products consecrated in the morning at the Easter service is customary.
Easter basket symbolism
Easter baskets usually include paska, pysanky, krashanky, cottage cheese, dairy butter, sausages, horseradish, salt, and ryshnyk (ritual embroidered cloth). This is what Ukrainians did in ancient times, and they do it now, except that they can add more new products familiar to modern people to the basket.
Therefore, in advance, you should make many preparations:
– color and decorate eggs. Krashanky and pysanky are symbols of life and the miracle of resurrection. The traditional way of natural dying includes the use of, for example, beet juice, onion peel, etc.;
– bake yeast paska. This is a traditional Easter pastry in Ukraine with a cylindrical shape. It symbolizes the presence of God in the life of every believer, as well as His mercy, compassion, and care;
– cook cottage cheese paska. This dish is shaped like a mountain and is identified with the Kingdom of Heaven. Cottage cheese, honey, milk, and other add-ons are used to prepare cottage cheese paska.
As you can see, the preparation for Orthodox Easter begins long before the holiday and includes many stages. Knowing the basic rules, you can complete all the preparations in a timely to celebrate the Holy Resurrection of Christ in Ukrainian style!