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It is traditional that during the Great Fast (Lent), the faithful fast and abstain from meat and dairy products as much as possible. To show their joy and gratitude at the end of this time of fasting, people take to Church baskets of food which are to be blessed and then consumed on Easter morning to “break-fast”. The traditional Ukrainian Easter morning breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, various meats, sausages and ham, butter, decorative paska, salt, horseradish, and cheese is a very special treat. This meal is very much looked forward to, especially in light of the symbolism of the foods that are consumed.  In the Ukrainian tradition, the Easter basket foods symbolize:

  • Paska — Christ, Our Bread of Life

  • Eggs — New Life and the Resurrection of Christ

  • Horseradish — The Passion of Christ

  • Bacon — God’s Mercy

  • Cheese — the moderation that Christians should show in all things

  • Salt — The duty of Christians to others

  • Ham — The great Joy and abundance of Easter

  • Butter — The Goodness of Christ

  • Kielbasa — God’s Favor and Generosity


Resurrection Icon.jpg

Easter Sunday morning in the Ukrainian tradition begins at sunrise. That is when the faithful arrive for Resurrection Services. The service before the Divine Liturgy consists of a procession which circles the church three times. The journey is made to symbolize the trip of the women to the tomb to anoint the Body of Christ on that first Easter morning. The makeup of the procession is similar to the one on Good Friday, led by a worshipper carrying the crucifix and altar boys using the kalatala (wooden clappers). Parish elders carry the Plaschenytsia (Holy Burial Shroud).

After the third passage, the procession stops in front of the church doors, which symbolize the impossibility of being able to enter the Kingdom of God before the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The priest sings the joyful Easter song “Khrystos Voskres” (“Christ is Risen”) the first time himself.  All of the faithful repeat the triumphant hymn a second time. Then, striking the doors of the church with the crucifix to open them, the priest begins “Khrystos Voskres” a third time, as the congregation joins in. This dramatic entrance reminds us that Heaven is now available to all because our Savior has conquered death with His death. All enter the church and the Divine Liturgy of Easter, the Great Day, begins.

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