Великий Тиждень

Velykyj Tyzhden' - Ukrainian Easter Week

Христос Воскрес! - Воїстино Воскрес!

Khrystos Voskres! (Christ is Risen!), Voiistyno Voskres! (He is Truly Risen!)

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Latin Easter falls on 23 March, 2008 in the Gregorian (western) calendar

Greek Easter falls on and 27 April, 2008 in the Julian (eastern) calendar.

Velykyi Tyzhden' (Great or Holy Week) starts with Verbna Nedilia (Willow Sunday - Palm Sunday to others). The willow is used instead of the palm both in Canada as well as Ukraine, because of the similarity of climates - that is - no palm trees! It honours the triumph of Jesus entering Jerusalem. The pussy willow branches have the additional significance of showing life early in the spring, symbolising the hope of the resurrection. They are gathered and blessed at services. After the service, parishoners gently tap each other with the willows, in imitation of the scourging of Christ while repeating The willow hits, not I; A week from now will be Easter ( Loza bje, ne ja bju, Vid neni za tyzhden' bude Velykyi Den'). The tapping with the willow also signifies the wishes for health, happiness and wealth. After Easter, the willow was either stuck in the ground - and legend would have it that if daughters married that their young man would be healthy, strong and a good provider. Otherwise, as with tradition regarding blessed items, the willows would be burned and the ashes scattered on the fields to ensure a good crop.  (Note:  In some areas of Ukraine the first week of Lent is referred to as Chystyi Tyzhden' or Pure Week)

The Great Week was aflurry of activity in Ukraine. Everything had to be done before Holy Thursday as no work was done until after the Easter celebration. House cleaning had tobe done, the annual coat of whitewash had to be applied, plowing, planting andthe other farm chores. As well, this is when pysanky (meaning to write) wouldbe written (with designs), the food prepared for the Easter basket to be takento church for blessing and of course the paska and babka had to be baked. Theicons would be draped in embroidered linen towels (rushnyky - ritual cloths) inanticipation of Velykyi Den'.

Strastney Chetver (Holy or Passion Thursday), recalls the Passion of Christ. The passion service consists of readings from the twelve Gospels relating the story of the suffering of Jesus. The gospels are read (or sung), along with prayers, prostrations and hymns with bells being rung after each chapter. The bells are then silenced and replaced with either wooden clappers or the striking of a mallet on a board. The bells are not heard again until Easter morning.

Velykodnia Piatnytsia (Good Friday), observes the Lord's Crucifixion. A fast abstaining from meat and dairy products is observed and no manual labour of any kind is permitted. Conversation is muted and must avoid argument. Good Friday observances include the Veneration of the Holy Shroud. The Holy Shroud is the representation of the sheet that Christ was buried in. There is a procession of worshippers carring the Crucifix, banners and the Holy Shroud, with the priest carrying the Eucharist and the altar boys carrying lighted candles and the wooden clappers. The congregation circles the church and reenters symbolising the journey from the Crucifx on Calvary to the tomb. The Holy Shroud is placed on a representative tomb and is surrounded by willows, candles and flowers

Holy Saturday is when parishoners visit the Holy Shroud to worship and kiss the wounds of Christ. A guard of honour keeps vigil at the Holy Sepulchre. Fasting is continued to prepare the soul for purity of confession on the Great Day. Holy Saturday is also when one goes to the Sviachenia or the Blessing of Traditional Easter Foods. The easter basket contains ham, roasted lamb (symbolizing Jesus), sausages, butter, cheese, Paska, horseradish and salt.

Velykyi Den' means Great Day and applies to Easter Sunday.

The reference for this isThe Encyclopaedia of Ukraine, 1984, University of Toronto Press.

Now to throw out a bit of trivia! The first Monday of Easter is called Oblyvanyi Ponedilok or Wet Monday. This is where young boys dowse girls they are fond of, with water. From a young relative who visited, he said that this was still done with much enthusiasm. However, the target has primarily become motorists with open windows. He said if you were smart, you would be driving with your windows closed and wipers going.

Ukrainian Customs and Information -contains information on celebration dates as well as other holiday information- http://www.geocities.com/ukrcustoms

Ukrainian Easter Food - http://pages.prodigy.net/l.hodges/recipes.htm

Web Sites on Писанки/Pysanky / Ukrainian Easter Eggs - http://www2.uwindsor.ca/~hlynka/pysanka.html

ATP - All things Pysanky - http://www.infoukes.com/culture/eggs/links//

Legend of the Pysanka (Ukrainian Easter Egg) -http://www.surmastore.com/pysanka.html

How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs - http://www.learnpysanky.com/

Links and suggestions arealways welcome! email ted(at)lomatski(dot)ca [this is to prevent automated harvesting of email addresses]

For Ukrainian EasterRecipes go here Paska Recipe & Hrin Recipe

Ukrainian Christmas & Customs

Ukrainian Easter

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