Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity. Christians celebrate the transition from death to life, the release of a person from the burden of sins, it is the way to freedom, love, and goodness.
In Western Christianity, Easter is the holiday of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The name comes from the Old English word Ēostre, which corresponds to the month of April.
In Latin and Greek, the Christian celebration was, and still is, called Pascha (Greek: Πάσχα), a word derived from Aramaic פסחא (Paskha), cognate to the Hebrew פֶּסַח (Pesach). The word originally denoted the Jewish festival known in English as Passover, commemorating the Jewish Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
In Ukraine, the holiday is also called Пасха [Paskha] or Великодень [Velykoden], which translates into English as The Great Day.
Featured image credit (Ukrainian Easter Bread called Paskha) Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash.
This year, the Ukrainian Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches celebrate Easter on April 16 because they follow the Julian calendar.
The Ukrainian Roman Catholic Church celebrates Easter on April 9, because in 1582 it switched to a new calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII and known as “Gregorian” or “new style”.
The introduction of the new calendar, and accordingly Easter, was an astronomically justified decision because the old Julian calendar at that time lagged behind the astronomical time by 10 days.
Families prepare for Easter during seven weeks of Great Lent, that is, approximately 50 days. Great Lent is considered one of the strictest fasts – that’s how much time Jesus Christ spent in the desert. It is believed that in these days the soul of a believer should sympathize with the Lord’s sufferings, which Jesus Christ experienced in human form in the last days. During the fast, meat and dairy products are prohibited, people mostly eat plant foods and sometimes fish is allowed.
Maundy Thursday is of special significance, the day when Jesus shared the last meal with his disciples during the Last Supper. This day is also called Maundy Thursday, and all Orthodox try to take communion whenever possible. In the evening, the 12 Gospels are read in the church, where the story of Christ’s Passion is told.
On Good Friday, the Shroud is taken out of the church – a piece of cloth in which the body of Christ was wrapped after it was taken down from the cross, and on which it is depicted in the coffin. This tradition arose in order to remind us of the Shroud of Turin. During the service, the shroud is wrapped around the church three times, symbolizing the ascension of Christ. It is prescribed not to eat anything on this day of mourning. In the evening of the same day, there is a special service, Matins of Holy Saturday.
In the Orthodox Christian tradition, there is a gorgeous egg painting technique that has been passed down through generations of Central and Eastern European families, dating back to ancient times: they are called pysanky eggs!
Ukrainian pysanky eggs are decorated using a wax-resist method, resulting in unique Easter egg designs that are deeply symbolic and meaningful. Making pysanky eggs is a labor of love that requires patience, attention to detail, and a steady hand. It’s a beautiful and rewarding craft that all ages can enjoy. Read about the experience of the New Bedford community finding a connection to Ukraine.
Featured image credit (Pysanka) Tim Mossholder via Unsplash.
As part of EuroLearn, Liverpool City Council in partnership with Liverpool ONE, has commissioned six artists to work with schools and members of the Ukrainian community to decorate giant eggs. Read about the amazing project of artist Amrit Singh (MrASingh) which promotes Ukrainian culture.
Featured image credit (Amrit Singh and Pysanka Egg) Liverpool City Council.
In case you have missed our previous post about Ukrainian culture please read our post about How to say Merry Christmas in Ukrainian.