Holy week in Ukraine: meaning, traditions and customs
More and more people are interested in the traditions associated with the preparation and celebration of holy week and Easter in Ukraine. This holiday is preceded by the Lent - the longest and most rigorous of the four fastings. The last six days of the Lent are the most stringent and rich for traditions. They are known as Holy week. These days are dedicated to preparing for the celebration of Easter.
There are many traditions associated with the holy week in Ukraine. According to the customs, people put all things in order inside of the house, in the yard, baked cakes, painted eggs, cooked some meals. Each day of this week has a special meaning, and reserved for particular tasks.
Traditions of Holy Monday
Among Holly Week by traditions, Monday was the starting point of preparation for Easter in Ukraine. Fasting on this day is especially severe. Some Orthodox people even try not to eat bread and drink water. According to the custom, on Holy Monday people in Ukraine clean up their houses:
- paint walls;
- wash floors;
- clean furniture.
The day traditionally started early, especially for women in Ukraine. Mother waked her daughters up before the sunrise. After they clean their selves, cleaning up begins. Women have to lubricate the floor on the bench with yellow. Beside that they washed furniture, tables, doors, windows, etc. After the lunch, all family went to the garden in order to sow all the seeds they had.
Customs on Holy Tuesday: its meaning
On Tuesday, by the Ukrainian customs, women steeped, washed and ironed clothes. If the weather was fine, everything brought into the open air: bedding, curtains and other textile things. Holiday clothes were also prepared on Tuesday. Meanwhile, men examined the fields and harvested wood for baking cakes.
Herbs from seeds, cooked on Tuesday before sunrise, had special power. In accordance with one ancient tradition, people in the countryside pounded seeds of flax, mixed it with water and watered the cattle that day. That was done in order to save animals from diseases during the whole year.
Good Wednesday and its meaning
Wednesday is the day to complete the most important work in the evening that day:
- clean the garden;
- clean up the house;
- clean the dwelling from outside.
In the evening women started to prepare dough for cakes. Meanwhile girls chose eggs for Easter, gathered wax and natural dyes and prepared brushes for painting. Boys cleaned the yard, put the firewood together, removed all junk.
That day of the week "Meatless Supper" is traditionally cooked. It should always contain 12 meals without meat. Moreover, bread, salt and soap are put under the roof. Probably it saturated special energy. It meant those things have become talismans for the home and family for the next year. As for the soap, the entire family used it on Clean Thursday.
Holy Thursday in Ukraine: meaning, traditions, customs
The people often say - Clean Thursday. In accord to the tradition, all family members had to bathe on this day before dawn. To be healthy, bidens was added to soap. Adults, children and even the smallest need to be woken up and washed before sunrise. People believed that any diseases will harm them the whole year. In addition to that Lord’s Prayer "Our Father" had to be read.
Clean or Holy Thursday is believed to be the day of renewal and has special meaning in Ukraine. Hostess had to bake bread. This meant that all family won’t starve during the year. The Father also had a very responsible task. He had to count money and examine tools to be sure that there will be a profit in the next year and nothing would be broken.
All morning all adult members of the family had to do some ordinary things. This meant they will have the desire and opportunity to do such things the next year. And of course, the most responsible thing during Clean Thursday was baking of Easter cakes and painting of Easter eggs.
Traditions on Holy Friday
That period was the most mournful day not only during the week, but also during the whole year. On this day there is no place for fun, singing and dancing. This day dinner has not been prepared. Instead of that people eat raw vegetables and bread, which had been baked before. Sewing, needle work and using an ax was also forbidden this day, as customs demanded.
Holy Friday is meaning a day of mourning in remembrance of the death of Christ. Praying on Holy Friday is traditionally filled with the spirit of sacrificial love and endless mercy to mankind.
All Christians have a strict fast. Customs of Ukraine say that everybody who laughs on this Friday will weep all year round. The culmination is the introducing of the shroud of Christ. Older people try not to eat anything till this day. Although some fast up until Sunday.
Holy Saturday: meaning and customs in Ukraine
Cakes are baked and eggs are painted if it was not done on Thursday. On Holy Saturday Easter cakes, colored eggs and cheese cake are brought to church. Fathers’ task is to prepare a basket for church. It is washed with water and dried in the sun. Women painted Easter eggs, cooked fried and boiled food and baked cakes. The basket had to be ready before evening. The evening was most solemn part of Holy Saturday: boys told different stories and legends.
One of the traditions in Ukraine is to stay up all night before Easter in order not to "sleep” all year. Not sleeping this night means to be active till the next Easter.
As you can see, Holy week is full of ancient customs and traditions with serious meaning. Our ancestors believed that these six days can influence the success of the entire year and therefore they were very important.