Ukrainian Easter Sunday primer

For those of you who need a refresher, here is what Ukrainian Easter is all about. From Traditional Ukrainian Cookery (1957):

With the break of dawn on Easter Sunday a special Ressurection Service is held with a procession around the church. The most beautiful aspect of th service is the joyful heralding of a risen Christ in the singing of the traditional Ukrainian hymn “Christ is Risen” (Khrystos Voskres). The whole congregation sings in unison with a heightened feeling. At the conclusion of the service, rows and rows of food-laden baskets with a lighted candle in each are blessed by the priest. In favourable weather this impressive ceremony is performed outside on the green church lawn. Food baskets covered with richly embroidered napkins contain Easter bread called “paska” and a selection of various Easter foods along with the multi-coloured pysanky. This custom is treasured in Canada. People greet one another with the traditional Easter greeting “Voistyno Voskres!” (He is risen indeed!). It is the custom to exchange or give Easter eggs with this Easter greeting.

Immediately after the service, people return home to break the long fast with an Easter breakfast of consecrated and other food. The breakfast menu consists of cooked eggs, a variety of hot and cold meats, roast suckling pig, cheese, salads, horseradish and beet relish, and a number of delectable Easter breads and pastries. The meal begins with Easter grace and then a ceremonious serving of the blessed egg, which the head of the family divides into several portions, one for each person, greeting the family with the customary Easter greeting of “Khrystos Voskres!”, and extending to everyone the very best wishes. The particular ritual symbolizes family unity and expresses hope for a happy and prosperous year until the next Easter.

Also this Easter I’ll be creating pysanky again, I wonder if they’ll turn out better than last year:

One of the most beautiful of all Ukrainian easter traditions is decorating eggs with artistic designs of a symbolic nature. In Ukrainian the decorated eggs are called “pysanky” from the word “pysaty” which mean to write. The design is actually written on the egg with a fine-pointed stylus dipped in wax, after which follows a series of dye baths. Pysanky are not eaten. The origin of this art is both ancient and obscure. Archeological excavations in Ukraine show that it was practiced several thousand years before the Christian era. Originally pysanky symbolized the release of the earth from the shackles of winter and the coming of spring with its promise of new hope, new life, health and prosperity. They were associated with mythical beliefs and talismanic powers. Folklore has it that a decorated egg can avert any evil, bring good crops, and help a young maiden to win the man of her desire. After the advent of Christianity, the decorated eggs took the new symbols of the Resurrection with its promise of a better world.

The art of painting Easter eggs is still practised in Ukraine and in Canada. Time has not reduced the design to a simpler form. Each new generation strives for greater perfection, beauty, and intricacy. Ukrainians have become unrivalled experts in this interesting folk art. A painted egg may well be called a miniature mosaic.

Here are some pysanky related news this weekend:

And if you thought I made a big stink last Christmas because Mama (who’s now known as Baba to newcomers to the family) didn’t make all the food from scratch, I was shocked to see earlier this week some Paska bread that came from a national grocery store chain:

Oh I’m just kidding! I have been assured though most of our Easter meals are coming from more ethnic chains this year: Vatra and Future Bakery (although Future’s quality has been noticeably declining as of late). I hope you all have a Happy Easter and Xpиcтoc Bocкpec!

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