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Easter Day in Ukraine. Traditional symbols and present-day celebration.

Posted on March 23 2017

No wonder even this truly religious day has combined both Christian values and ancient pagan believes in Ukrainian culture.

pysanka easter eggs

Ukrainians honor Easter celebration as one of the most important religious holidays of the year. People name it Velykden, the Great Day! It is celebrated during two days on Sunday and Monday. While Tuesday is the time to come back to work with the stories about joyful feast, relatives visit and Easter basket photos on Instagram.
Traditional Easter celebration
1920. Yasinia village. Carpathian region of Ukraine. Easter Day celebration.
Everyone has got the warm family recollections on Easter Sunday and they teach the young generation to keep it.
Church service
Healthy eating worldwide trend together with religious factor make people follow the 6 weeks Lent before Eater day. When people refuse eating animal products as meat, eggs and diary. In this way people clean up their mind and body filling it with light emotions and positive life energy.
Starting from 12.00 a.m. at Sunday night people go to the church service to pray, to listen to the sound of bells and for sure to bless the Easter basket. And the candle lighted at the beginning of the ceremony has to be carried the whole way home not been quenched.
Ukrainian Easter

Easter holiday in Ukraine is tracked with long preparation time.

Pure Thursday or “Chystyi Chetver” is a day to commemorate Christ’s passion. Ukrainians finish up all preparations and house tiding up. In some regions of Ukraine people wake up at 4 a.m. and take the bath with blessed willow branches they keep from the “Pussy Willow” Sunday Christ’s entry into Jerusalem celebration with which the week before Easter begins. As water is believed to possess the holy energy and to save the health.
Ukrainian traditions
Next day is Good Friday, a solemn time that commemorates the day our Lord was crucified.  This day is observed as a strict fast, so no meat or dairy products are consumed. No manual labor is allowed. 
Ukrainian Easter eggs
Krashanka (hardboiled egg to be eaten during feast) and Pysanka (raw egg) two kinds of Ukrainian Easter egg women create only on Pure Thursday.
Pysanka is traced out in beeswax and the egg is then dipped into dye. The dye colors the egg where it is bare but leaves it white where the wax protects it. The process is then repeated as many times as desired (working from the lightest dye to the darkest) to create an intricate, many-layered pattern.
Pysanka creation
Krashanka egg is dyed in the onion husk brew to get the red color. Green one is get in boiling it in the spinach and nettle brew. For yellow color you can add turmeric spice and for purple one boil eggs together with the viola flowers.
There is also a game kids especially love playing on Sunday morning. It is called “egg battle” when two people rap their eggs together, and if someone’s eggshell breaks, that person is out of the game (or has to give the egg up, or eat it, depending on family tradition). The shells after are not thrown away instead they are given to the chicken to eat or just put to the river or stream.
Easter celebration 
Pysanka were made late at night reading prayers, feeling each pattern with positive energy and meaning. As they believed to protect from evil, misfortune, to be a talisman and the treatment against illnesses. So the strict sign order has got a kind of magic ritual during its creation. One of the main Pysanka symbols are:
  1. Infinity sign, Bezkonechnyk. Every pysanka has to get this sign for luck and harmony. The Easter egg without it can cause misfortune.
  1. Spiral symbol is often seen at the Tripoli culture ceramics. It is a sign of fertility, sun and running time.
  2. Circle is the third most common sign symbol in Ukrainian Easter egg. It is a sign of perfection, immortality image that appears in nature under continuous repetition of life.

Pysanka ornaments

Ukrainian pysanka has got plenty of signs to read varying on the region of its creation.
Easter egg is a perfect gift to show your appreciation and good wishes.
Delicious Easter symbol. Paska traditional Ukrainian baked bread.
It is the symbol of the Kingdom of heaven and resurgation, the bread of eternal life. It is decorated with crosses, wreathes and spring birds made of dough. That is the main feature which makes Ukrainian Easter bread Paska differ from Russian one. Where the bread is decorated with whipped egg whites and colorful millet.
Ukrainina Easter bread
What is put to the Easter food basket?
As far as you see pysanky, krashanky, Paska are the main basket meals. Here comes the others carrying their own meaning.
1.Cheese and butter. As the symbols of the God’s kindness and tenderness.
2.Sausage (kovbasa) and ham – the symbol of inner joy and happiness.
3.Horse-radish makes the health and spirit stronger.
4.Salt has got the meaning of wealth. The Holy Bible says that salt is a symbolic connection between the God and people.
Easter celebration in Lviv
Rushnyk, Ukrainian embroidered towel, is not only a decoration for the Easter basket. It has to be made only of natural materials as cotton or linen. The embroidery technique used is cross stich embroidery only.
 “Christ is risen” – “Khrystos Voskres”  phrase, the embroidered Paska (Earth hertility) , Easter eggs (meaning eternal life) and candles (positive holy energy) are the vital rushnyk elements.
On Sunday morning with the first sun rays all family gather at the festive table enjoying delicious Easter meals. During two days they visit relatives and friends sharing happiness, positive emotions and playing folk Easter games.
Christ is risen
But nowadays Ukrainians have become more open to other cultures decorating their houses with nests, lambs and rabbits or hares.
Happy Easter! Christ is risen!
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