Easter- The Resurrection
The priest knocks on the door in the sign of the cross and the faithful triumphantly sing the resurrection hymn "Christ is Risen" "Hrystos Voskres". This is a victory hymn as it proclaims Life itself killed death.
After mass, the Easter baskets are blessed.
The Blessing of the Baskets:
The blessing of the baskets is traditionally done on the Saturday before Easter. The Ukrainian Easter basket is the pride and joy of the family. People judge the mistress of the house according to the way her Easter basket looks, what it contains, and how it is decorated. A willow basket is lined with an embroidered cloth (or, here in the States, filled with green plastic grass), and is filled with a sampling of Easter foods. The Easter basket should contain:
Paska (Ukrainian Easter Bread)
Krashanky (dyed hard boiled eggs in a variety of colors, but there must be a red one)
Butter (often a butter lamb)
Ham (or other smoked meat)
Salo (pork fat)
Kovbasa (sausage - a small ring)
Various seeds (e.g. sunflower, poppy)
Christmas is one of the most cherished Celebrations that the Ukrainian people celebrate. Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve, December 24 (as per the Gregorian Calendar), which is a day of vigilance, prayer and fasting. The entire family is involved in the preparation of the traditional Christmas Eve Supper (or Sviata Vecheria - literally "Holy Supper").
When the first Star in the eastern sky appears, it marks the beginning of the ancient and memorable rituals. The father of the home may bring in the "Didukh" (Grandfather Spirit) - a sheaf of wheat wrapped with an embroidered towel - which is placed under an Icon in a place of honor, in the home. The decorated sheaf of wheat - a symbol of the harvest - symbolizes the ancestors of the family. There may be spread on and around the table, a thin layer of hay. The table is then covered with a white embroidered tablecloth. All this is symbolic of the manger in which Christ the Savior was born. At the center of the table, symbolizing the Holy Trinity, are three round "kolachi" (braided loaves of bread). In the center of the loaves is candle which symbolizes Jesus Christ as the Light of the World. The entire family gathers by the table, and the head of the family leads in prayer - usually the singing of the Nativity theme. After this he greets the family with the traditional Christmas salutation: "Christ is Born!". The family responds "Let us glorify Him!".
Everyone then sits down to partake of the Holy Supper, which consists of twelve meatless dishes. After all the preparations have been completed, the father offers each member of the family a piece of bread dipped in honey, which had been previously blessed in church. He then leads the family in prayer. After the prayer the father extends his best wishes to everyone with the greeting Khrystos Razhdaietsia (Christ is born)
The twelve dishes honor the Twelve Apostles as they gathered for the Last Supper. The first of the twelve courses is "Kutia." The ingredients of which are wheat, honey, poppy seeds and nuts which symbolize the fertility of God’s nature. Kutia is assumed to symbolize prosperity peace and good health. The order of courses, and even the courses themselves, are not uniform everywhere, for each region in Ukraine had its own traditions and were subject to the ingredients available to it. However, the following are commonly served: borsch, fish (served in different ways), holubtsi, pyrohy, mushrooms with sauce, stewed dried fruit; pastries and the like. After the Holy Supper the family joins in singing of Christmas carols. Later in the evening the whole family goes to church for the service of Great Complines (the very moving and unforgettable service where one hears sung majestically, "God is with us"). At about midnight, the solemn Divine Liturgy is celebrated; it forms the kernel and crown of the entire Christmas celebration. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the faithful approach the altar for myrovania (a blessing with Holy Oils).