Ukrainian Easter

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Here we are on April 12th celebrating Easter! (No, this is not a mistake!) There were two Easter celebrations for GEAI this year – the Catholic and Orthodox, April 5th and April 12th, respectively. They were celebrated in accordance with the traditions of the two religions, but both involved a feast!

By the way, this year’s celebration of the Orthodox Easter coincided with the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin, which is now adopted by the United Nations as “International Day of Human Space Flight”.

As a representative of the Orthodox religion, I would like to tell more about our Easter.

Easter in Ukraine – the main Orthodox holiday, as in many other countries. Ukrainians began to celebrate it long before the arrival of Christianity, and it was called “Velikoden”. It was a day of victory of spring over winter, life over death, light over darkness, and linked directly to the beginning of the sowing season. Later, after the Christianisation of Kievan Rus’ in 980s (the year is disputed), it was transformed into a Christian tradition.

It is the tradition to bake Easter cake – Paska and decorate Easter eggs – Pysanky. The pysanky are decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs. Most ornaments and symbols used have very ancient origins. The characters portraying the sun are among the most common in all ethnic Ukraine and other ancient civilizations. The cult of the sun was most important, Dazhbog (God of sun) was one of the major gods of Slavic mythology. The oldest symbol of the sun was a three-fold character.

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The sun is also symbolised by other marks, including characters with four rays.

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The cross, also symbolising the spatial representation of our ancestors, is a symbol of fire. This symbol turns away trouble. A straight cross meant a day of svastyam – a year. The cross was also a symbol of the god of the earth.

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A common symbol is the world tree. The tree symbolises the families’ growth.

Characters not only showed divine symbols, but also household.

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As Ukrainian ancestors were farmers, they were in favour of the symbols of fertility and yield.

Some of love symbols:1_2

There are so many symbols, I just showed some of them.

With the advent of Christianity a pysanka is included in the rites of the new religion and is enriched with new characters. For example:

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There a lot of legends kept  about pysanky. One of them is that the fate of the world depends on how many Easter eggs each year are painted. While pysanky are painted, the world will exist, and when this tradition will be forgotten, then evil as a terrible devil will be freed from his iron shackles and destroy the world. This devil lives under the ground, chained to rocks. Every year he sends his servants around the world to see who paint most eggs and how they are are painted. When so many are done, the iron shackles firmly grip the devil,and it loses strength because human love overcomes the greatest evil. So, while the pysanky are painted, the world will exist.

This year I painted two pysanky to contribute to the salvation of the world 🙂  (Hope it`s going to help!)

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Comments

  1. Isobel Cleary says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, and learning something new! What a lovely tradition.

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