My First Ukrainian Easter

A quick little snippet about my Easter morning. We left the house at 4am. We had to carry baskets with the food for the meal later that day. I went with my host sister and we met up with her friends near the church. By the time we got there I kid you not there were about 8000 people. It was PACKED.

I thought we would be inside the building but there were so many people. The majority of people stood in a semi circle in the courtyard of the church with their baskets on the ground in front. A huge processional walked by in the space between them and the start of the steps . The priests and other holy people ( I guess) were carrying large golden crosses and other ornate ornaments. They led the people who had been there all night around the church and then up the stairs and inside.

Since I don't speak much Ukrainian I can't really tell you what was happening during the service. There was chanting and singing and speaking. Sometimes people in the crowd would cross themselves and bow all at once. That part maybe lasted 30 min. Then people from inside the church started flowing out. Everyone outside stayed in their semi circle which created quite the bottle neck of the inside people trying to get out the gates behind the semi circle.

I knew we had to get our food blessed and I thought it would take a seriously long time... but I was wrong. No one told me that getting your good blessed meant agreeing to basically stand in the splash zone. A holy man ( I'm not sure what they call them in the orthodox church so forgive me) decked out in full garb had what looked like a giant paint brush that he would dip in this bucket of holy water his assistant was carrying and then fling it onto the crowd. When I say fling I literally mean fling. It was some pretty aggressive blessing. He would dip it in the bucket whirl it around his head and release the water into the crowd.

After the first wave of blessings, the front row people left and we moved up. This time around a different man came and blessed things. I don't know if they different men meant different things or we just needed more holy water on the basket of food.

All in all it took about 2 hours. Fun fact getting doused in holy water when it is 40 degrees is legit awful. My feet were freezing and I was ready to go home and nap. However I was told now it was time to celebrate. We went to a clearing near on of my host sisters friends houses and toasted wine and played battle bots with eggs.

One of the things that we had blessed was the hard boiled eggs. A Ukrainian Easter tradition/requirement before eating is to smash the eggs on top of each other. Whomever's egg cracks loses and then you get to eat them. You basically battle bot your eggs with everyone.

We made it home about 6:30 am and I promptly went to sleep. Some other trainees went church from 11 pm until 4 am. So my experience might have just been the tail end.

It is a super interesting experience when you don't speak the language and you are just told to say yes to things. You really get to experience new things and can have some pretty interesting experiences.

I was woken up around 9am to go down for "breakfast". The whole host family gathered in our host grandmothers apartment. The food served was more typically dinner food and there was a lot more wine.

I heard from other volunteers that they had activities all day. My host family spent most of the rest of the day sleeping. I did some studying and watched an Easter service online in America.

Being away from home for a holiday is difficult but it is also really interesting to learn about new cultures and their traditions.

I took some snap chats of the occsassion and will try and embed them here if I can.

#Easter #Ukraine #lifestyle