So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, April 6, 2015

What do Ukrainian Greek Catholics do at Easter?

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection
Referred to by Ukrainian Catholics as "The Resurrection of the Lord", the most joyous day of the Ukrainian Catholic Calendar begins with a pre-sunrise Resurrection service. The Service is conducted outside the closed doors of the church in symbolic reference to Christ's closed tomb. Upon entering the church, the faithful triumphantly sing the resurrection hymn "Christ is Risen", Hrystos Voskres. This is a victory hymn as it proclaims Life itself killed death.

For Ukrainians, Easter is a harmonious blend of cultural practices and religious observances. Some of the customs now observed derive from Christian practices, and some from the pre-Christian days. Our ancestors celebrated the coming of spring and the sun in springtime. Thus, there are ancient and deeply ingrained traditions incorporated into the present-day Byzantine liturgical form of worship. For this reason, the Feast of Resurrection abounds with various religious, semi-religious, and cultural rituals.

The triumphal jubilations of Easter Sunday in the Ukrainian Church are aptly matched by the reality of new life in springtime after the short days and dormancy of winter. This new life is expressed in the traditional pysanky or Easter eggs. In the pre-Christian era in Ukraine, these eggs represented the new life of springtime. With the advent of Christianity, these eggs became the symbol of Christ's Resurrection.

On this great day also, spring rituals were performed with songs and dances called the hayilky or vesnyanky. But the prime item was and is the Paska, the ritual meal consisting of the contents of the Easter Basket blessed on Holy Saturday. The ritual meal begins with the reciting or singing of Easter Grace. The family then takes one of the blessed eggs and divides into sufficient pieces for all members of the family to partake in. Prior to eating the egg, the head of the family greets all members with Hrystos Voskres (Christ is risen) and the family responds Voistino Voskres (Truly He is risen). The family then sits and partakes in the Easter Meal.
Thomas Sunday
On Easter Sunday a round loaf of bread (called the Artos - the symbol for the bread of eternal life) is covered with a metal plate bearing an Icon of the Resurrected Christ and is blessed following the Divine Liturgy. The Artos is reserved on the Altar for the entire week. On Thomas Sunday (the Sunday following Easter; in the Latin Rite Divine Mercy Sunday) the Artos is cut into small cubes and distributed to the faithful following the Divine Liturgy.
Following the Diving Liturgy on Easter Sunday, the parish gathers as family and partakes in a symbolic Easter Dinner called Spilne Sviachene (or blessed meal) and is comprised of the same food which was blessed on Holy Saturday.
Some Ukrainian Greek Catholic (UGCC) websites to visit:

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