I love the Easter Holiday - I grew up celebrating Ukrainian traditions and continue to do so - I hope to pass on these traditions to my children too one day. One of my favourite things about the Easter Holiday is that it is filled with symbolism and ancient tranditions, one of my favourites being 'pysanky' - our hand-made and intricate Ukranian Easter Eggs (that have their roots in old pagan traditions and then took on a new meaning once Christianity was spread into Ukraine). To me, Easter was never about the bunny rabbit or egg hunts - it was about blessing the Easter basket (which is filled with certain foods which then make up our Easter meal - Paska - a sweet egg based bread, Kobasa, ham, horseradish, eggs, cheese, pysanky that were made that year, krashanky -dyed eggs that we later 'fight' with - I'll explain later - and butter). Easter is also a time to celebrate the fact that Christ has risen an when we greet each other on Easter Sunday and Monday we say 'Xrystoc Voskrec' (Christ is Risen)! Here are a few pics that illustrate some of the Ukrainian traditions (taken from past Easter celebrations):
This is our Easter Basket last year that my mom and I put together - for the butter and cheese, we always make a cross using real cloves - we also use an embroirdered Ukrainian cloth to place underneath and protect the food!
Every year we take the Easter Basket to get blessed by a priest. The old tradition was to bless the basket right after mass on Sunday an just before eating the Easter meal, but since our church has grown so much and a lot of people have baskets to bless, its usually done on Saturday (which is were I will be going later today!!! - Its such an amazing experience)
One year, Martha Sterwart dedicated a show to Ukrainian Easter Traditions - here she is with her mom and a guest explaining the traditions on her show!
Here are some Pysanky that my mom has collected over the years (many are gifts, as its tradition and considered good luck to give and recieve a pysanka) - Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pysanka for a lot of great informaiton about Pysanky, the ancient pagan roots of the pysanky, what each colour symbolizes and how they are made! Here are a few more pictures of different pysanky:
Sometimes Pysanky are also made out of bigger eggs like Ostrich eggs - When my mom retired from being a teacher for over 30 years, her friends got together and got an Ostrich egg pysanka made just for her - its incredibly beautiful - I wish I had a picture to show you! She doesn't let too many people near it - lol
Sitting down for the Easter Meal is always such a treat - I love the hardboiled eggs, my moms potato salad and I especially like the beet-horseradish salad my mom makes - every year my dad and I have a competition to see who can eat the most horseradish - it never ends well, but at least, we both have clear sinuses for the rest of the season!!!
One of the fun traditions we have is to see who chooses the 'Champion' egg - Krashanky are hardboiled eggs that have been dyed with food colouring - when we sit down for the Easter Meal, we each pick an egg and then have an 'egg fight' so to speak, trying to crack the other persons egg shell - if our egg is left unharmed and uncrcracked, its considered the champion egg - I wonder who had the champion egg???:
Happy Easter Everyone - XRYSTOC VOSKREC (Christ is Risen)!!!