In this article I will give you an insight into traditions and ways of Easter celebrations in Ukraine. Here you will not read about bunnies, hiding eggs in the garden or plenty of chocolate simply because it’s not there. Easter in Ukraine is all about food!
To begin with, in Ukraine, as in any other Eastern European country with Orthodox religion, Easter is the biggest holiday after Christmas. Easter is called Velykden (Великдень) in Ukrainian. The preparation for it is held during the last week of Lent. Houses are cleaned (both inside and out), gardens are planted, field work is finished, but most importantly – Easter food is cooked! All sorts of non-lenten food like sausages and meat, cakes etc. are prepared but are not allowed to be eaten until Sunday. It is so hard to resist this temptation so I am the one who usually gives up on that! 🙂
On Saturday at midnight people usually go to a church to bless their Easter willow baskets that always consist of Paska (an egg round sweet bread), ham (or any other smoked meat) , salo (pork fat), kovbasa (sausage), khrin (a mix of ground beets and horseradish), various of korjyky (home-made cookies), krashanky (colored eggs), and pysanky (eggs decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk design using a wax-resist method) which is an integral part of Ukrainian Easter celebration.
After the food is blessed people go back home and have their first Easter breakfast. They usually start with egg cracking game or krashanka battle. The goal is to crack another player’s egg and make the loser eat it. Kids can be very tricky at this game. Sometimes they buy a wooden egg, color it in appropriate color (red, yellow or blue) to make it look like all the others and simply fool everyone who dares to play against them.
Easter celebration in Ukraine is being held for three days. People usually visit their relatives and friends and wherever they go, they eat! It is even considered rude if you are invited to a table but reject trying some food offered to you. One person here in Europe once told me: “you do not look like Ukrainian! I thought all Ukrainians are pretty chubby because they eat A LOT of fat food!” That is not true! And those who know me also know that this is nothing but a typical stereotype 🙂 . Everything we eat is mostly healthy homemade food which does not necessarily makes you fat. If you ever go to Ukraine and experience typical Ukrainian Easter celebration, you might get the same impression. However, do not think that every day we eat as much as during Easter. Ok, I admit that after Easter holidays you might gain 2 kilos. However, enjoying the food is definitely worth it! And what is 2 extra kilos? They can easily be lost after one week of jogging and intensive workout!
And one last thing, if you decide to go to Ukraine for Easter celebration, remember to say “Christos Voskres!” (Christ is Risen!) when you greet someone and answer “Voyistynu Voskres!” (Indeed He is Risen!) when somebody greets you!
Have a nice Easter celebration!