Add Ukrainian Easter traditions to your holiday

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Easter, or Velykden (“The Great Day”), is celebrated in Ukraine with an array of traditions.

Easter in Ukraine follows the Orthodox Christian calendar; it falls a week after the Catholic holiday (Orthodox Passover this year is April 24; other Christians celebrate April 17).

Holy Week begins on Willow Sunday, when worshipers decorate their homes with willow switches. Then begin food preparations for a week.

Food

Food is the focal point of most holidays, and Easter in Ukraine is no exception. The previous week is devoted to the preparation of traditional dishes.

The season begins with Lent, when Orthodox Christians renounce eating animal products – meat, dairy products and eggs.

The foods eaten at Easter are not only delicious but symbolic:

● Paska — Easter bread — represents the joy of new life given by Jesus Christ.

● Kielbasa – a spicy pork sausage – is a reminder of God’s love.

● Horseradish symbolizes the Passion, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

● Eggs represent the rebirth of life. Speaking of eggs…

Pysanky and Krashanky

Decorated Easter eggs from Ukraine are world famous for their intricate designs and lavish use of color. Each is a work of art.

These ornate eggs have two variations: pysanky and krashanky.

A pysanka (singular of psyanky) is made with a raw egg: Poke a small hole in the bottom and let it drain completely. In this way, the egg can be preserved.

Pysanky are covered in hand-drawn designs that have religious and natural themes. The name derives from “pysaty”, which means “to write”. This craft is passed down from generation to generation.

A krashanka (singular of krashanky) is made with a hard-boiled egg so that they can be eaten on Easter. These eggs are usually much less complex.

Locally

If you want to learn the art of pysanky while supporting Ukraine in its current crisis, Goshen Green Farms in Goshen, NY (goshengreenfarm.com), is hosting a workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. The cost is $50, with all proceeds going to the people of Ukraine.

Daria Bonomini takes over Ukrainian Egg Decorating Classes at the Warwick Valley Olive Oil Company and Hotel in Crystal Springs.

“Ukrainians carry on this work of art across the world and have done so for centuries,” Bonomini said.

Baskets

In Ukraine, you are less likely to find a basket full of chocolate bunnies or plastic eggs hiding candies and coins.

Instead, Easter baskets are filled with the foods to eat later in the day – paska, kielbasa, krashanky and all the rest – and taken to church in the morning to be blessed.

Games

There is no Easter bunny or elaborate egg hunt in Ukraine. But Ukrainians have their own fun, with each family playing their own games to celebrate.

A popular game is known as “Egg Knocking” or “Egg Battles”. The rules are simple: each fighter chooses an egg, then uses it to break the others. When your egg cracks, you have to eat it and you’re out of the game as well.

WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN PYSANKA?

Here is what you will need:

A kistka (wax pen)

Beeswax

Powder dyes

A pencil

Egg at room temperature

White vinegar

Candle

Fabrics

Elastics

Spoons

Step 1: Find a pattern you like: Learnpysanky.com has beginner-friendly options.

Step 2: Prepare your egg: Hold it up to the light to reject any with imperfections, such as cracks or surface bumps. Then, gently clean the shell with a solution of 1 tablespoon vinegar added to 1 cup water. Pat the shell dry; don’t rub.

Step 3: Prepare your tints: Your powder tints come with instructions.

Step 4: Draw your design on the egg with a light pencil. Use a rubber band as a guide to draw straight lines. Don’t try to erase mistakes; faint pencil lines will not be visible on the finished egg.

Step 5: Heat the head of the kistka with the flame of the candle for 20-30 seconds. Put some beeswax in the funnel of the kistka and heat until the wax is melted. Test the wax flow on an old newspaper. Since the wax instantly bonds to the eggshell, make sure the flow is correct before you begin.

Step 6: Once you are happy with the wax flow, start tracing your pencil drawing with the kistka. Make sure you get all sides of the egg.

Step 7: This is the time for the first dye, which will not stain any part of the egg covered with wax. Place your egg on the spoon and dip it into the coloring mixture. Let stand for about 15 minutes.

Step 8: Remove the egg with the spoon and dry it with tissues. Repeat the process – add another coat of wax, then dip in the same dye or another color – until you’re happy with the design.

Source: Learnpysanky.com

Imagine, after several weeks of a restricted diet, the sight of a magnificent Ukrainian table, with its range of tempting dishes.

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