Easter in Eastern Europe

Easter is coming, so I thought it would be apt to tell you a bit of Ukrainian traditions. Like most religious holidays, Easter in Eastern Europe is a mix of Christian and pagan elements. It’s celebrated after vernal equinox, when the day finally becomes as long as the night, and the consequent days keep getting longer.


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It’s the festival of resurrection of Christ, but on a deeper level it’s a celebration of the Light defeating the Darkness and Day getting victory over Night.

The week before Ester is known as Pure Week – during this time you’re supposed to tidy up the house, to take care of your garden and to finish all the work whatsoever before Thursday. All the baking should be done by Holy Thursday as well, and as kids my brother and me used to find it extremely hard to wait till Sunday when the baking was done well in advance.

Easter goodies

On Passion Friday some religious rituals are performed in the churches with a special setup symbolizing the Christ’s tomb for the worshippers to pray at.

In the evening on Saturday people start gathering in the church for the Ester service which lasts all night. Each believer brings a basket of food to be blessed by the priest. Usually this basket contains:

Paska (an Easter sweet bread shaped like a cylinder with a white sweet coating at the top)

Easter in Eastern Europe

Pysanky (boliled and then painted eggs). These days there are lots of special stickers to simplify the process of painting.

easter eggs

Krashanky (colored eggs)

easter-bread-and-eggs

(And also ham, cheese, sausage, butter etc.)

Next morning, on Easter Sunday, people come back after the service to celebrate at home and to eat all those goodies that have been blessed by the priest. Meeting each other this day, instead of usual greetings people say “Jesus is risen” and respond “Risen indeed”.

Painted and colored eggs are given to each other as gifts.

Kids usually play “egg knocking” game – you’re supposed to knock someone’s egg and break it, and if your own egg remains unbroken, you’re a winner.

 paska-and-eggs

Easter bread and eggs are of a pagan origin – these pre-Christian elements are the symbol of fertility. Good I didn’t know about it while growing, otherwise it would have inevitably awaken some unpleasant associations.

Next week is usually dedicated to the dead – people come to the cemeteries, tidy up the area around the graves and plant some flowers.

All the photos in this post were sent to me by my family in Ukraine.

If you celebrate this weekend, wishing you a Happy Easter, good health. lots of joy and family atmosphere!

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3 thoughts on “Easter in Eastern Europe

  1. It was interesting to read about Easter traditions in Ukraine, the festive food and also about how you greet each other on Easter.
    Happy Easter to you, Antonina. 🙂

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