Easter is a peculiar holiday uniting all family members. Although it is considered to be a religious holiday for Christians, it originates from ancient pagan rites. Ukrainian traditions of the day are very interesting and various and include many exciting activities for all relatives to take part in.
Easter traditions in Ukraine
The day of Christ’s resurrection may be compared by its importance only with the day of His birth. Therefore, many rites and superstitions are connected to this day. It is customary to cook special dishes and visit the church to sanctify them and to get blessed by the clergyman. You may be curious to know that these traditions are followed not only by religious Ukrainians. On meeting, anybody says “Christ has resurrected!” - “Indeed he has!”
Two months preceding the fest are considered to be a vital period as all should prepare themselves by keeping the Great Lent. During this term, it is forbidden to eat rich food, gamble, and get married. The more serious the person takes the lent, the more joyful and pleasant the festivity afterwards is.
The week before the holiday named the Great Week is time to commemorate the suffering of Christ. The most significant weekdays of it are from Thursday to the following Sunday. The Great Thursday is time for confession and making general cleaning. The Good Friday is the day when Christ was crucified, therefore, it is not allowed to work on this day. Saturday is the day of sorrow. Sunday is a day of joy for resurrected Savior.
Easter cake - Ukraine Easter bread
Baking cakes is a very important rite and often takes a whole day. Ukrainian girls prefer to cook them on Thursday or Saturday. The cakes can be made with nuts, dried fruits, and decorated with colored sugar drops, marzipan flowers, and figures. These delicious cakes are the first dish to try on festive breakfast and can be stored for more than a week if kept properly.
Ukrainian Easter Eggs
This tradition dates back to the times when family members gathered to decorate eggshells. The eggs could be covered with hand-made ornaments or colored by boiling with natural dyes. Nowadays the process is made easier with thermo-coverings produced for decorating Easter eggs. So you may choose among the pictures of animals, flowers, paintings and even cartoon heroes. The classical ones imitate national Ukrainian ornaments - gzhel, hochloma, and petrykivka - named by the villages they were invented in.
This rite is funnier than a religious one and is loved by many kids. It is performed on a festive day after getting from church when the family gets together at a festive table. The eggs are hit against each other and the one which is left uninjured is supposed to bring luck to its holder. Some people also have a rule of eating the egg of the defeated opponent which makes them even funnier.
Lighting a candle
On Good Friday churches put out all the candles as a sign of mourning. The day of Christ’s resurrection is unique as by beliefs the sacred fire comes to Earth. That is why lighting a Paschal candle is a special and important ritual. Lit candles are stuck into the top of the festive cakes in the church and throughout the breakfast. They represent Christ as a leading light for all the living.