Paschal or Easter feast is season of hope, joy and happiness. It is the celebration of God’s resurrection. It is the most important festival of Orthodox Christians like Annunciation. Pascha is also a great holiday in Orthodox countries. The celebrations of Easter or Pasca are combined with local traditions and customs. It differs from palaces to place.
Christ is Risen! He is Indeed Risen!!!
Христос воскрес! Воістину воскрес!
Chrystos voskres! Voistynu voskres!
The Ukrrine has a rich Orthodox history and tradition and as a result, there are certain Paschal practices in the Ukraine that are quite interesting to note. There are three major Orthodox Churches namely Ukraine Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).
By traditions people do not sleep in the Easter night rather, in the evening people go to church for vespers service, where they carry in beautiful baskets, a variety of foods to the Church – Paskha (sweet cream-cheese dish eaten at Easter), painted eggs, meat and food products and much more, everything except vodka. They attend solemn Divine Liturgy and special Easter services and the priest bless all dishes. They take part in procession with choir. They also light candles and it is a beauty beyond words. After the serve faithful greet each other saying “Christ is Risen”. Visit this site for excellent resources on Ukraine Easter customs and traditions.
Back home they sit together to have food where it stars with Paskha which is placed at the centre of the table and it resembles the body of Jesus Christ, and the eggs painted in red denotes the revival of life ion Slavs and other people. Painted Easter eggs are integral part of the day and table decoration. These eggs are know by different names such as ‘Krashanky’ which is painted in one or several colors eggs, ‘Pysanky’ painted with ornament and ‘Skrobanky’ eggs, on which the pattern is applied with a sharp instrument. The themes of painting will be always floral design and images of rooster sun, church etc.
Super cool website: http://www.learnpysanky.com/
It is amazing that paschal celebration in Ukraine continue for almost another forty days depicting the appearance of Christ to his disciples after resurrection. During these forty days Orthodox believers greet each other saying “Chrystos voskres” meaning Christ in Risen and in return they will respond by saying “Voistynu voskres” meaning He is indeed risen. In first week of Easter people go to each other at home, give painted eggs and cakes and play Easter games. On Easter Sunday, young girls and even boys perform hahilky (Ritual Spring Songs and Dances) in front of the church or in the cemetery. More here.
It so very interesting to note Easter games played in Ukraine. There are several Easter games. The most famous game is Knocking In this game children and adults choose Easter eggs and knock them one on another. Whose is broken, those lost. It is interesting that during the first week of Easter in all the churches is permitted to call bells to anyone who wishes.
The holy fire which is the greatest miracle of Orthodoxy is brought to Ukraine from Jerusalem. By traditions every year Ukrainian Orthodox Christians mark holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem during Paschal season and they take part in Divine Liturgy at the Holy Sepulcher and at Judgment Gate of Jerusalem. Ukrainians are regular visitors to the Holy Land.
Wishing you all a blessed paschal season. May this Pascha fill your life with abundance of hope and joy. God bless us all.
George Alexander is an expert on Orthodox Christianity and writes regularly for Travelujah – Holy Land tours. He is the Secretary and Spokesperson for the Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE and can be reached at