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Holy week in Ukraine: meaning, traditions and customs | Interesting about Ukraine

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.

Holy week in Ukraine

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.

Traditions of Holy Monday

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.

Customs on Holy Tuesday

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.

Traditions of Holy Monday

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.

Traditions of Holy Monday

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.

Traditions on Holy Friday

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.

Easter night

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.


What is the significance of Easter in Ukrainian culture?

Easter, or "Velykden" in Ukrainian, is a highly significant holiday in Ukrainian culture. It is a time for families and communities to come together and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For many Ukrainians, it is also a time to honor their ancestors and the traditions that have been passed down through generations.

Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal, both spiritually and physically. It marks the end of the long, dark winter and the beginning of spring, a time of new life and growth. Many Ukrainian traditions and customs associated with Easter reflect this theme of renewal, such as the painting of eggs and the baking of special Easter bread.

Overall, Easter is an important holiday that reflects the deep spiritual and cultural roots of Ukraine, and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy by Ukrainians around the world.

What is the typical Easter meal in Ukraine?

The Easter meal in Ukraine is an important part of the celebration, and it is a time for families to gather together and share a meal. The traditional Easter meal in Ukraine is called "svyachene," which means "holy food." It consists of a variety of dishes, many of which are meatless as a way to observe the Lenten fast. The most important dish is the "paska," a sweet bread made with eggs and served with butter and cheese. Other dishes may include boiled eggs, salads, vegetables, and fish. Meat dishes may also be served, particularly roasted pork or lamb. Desserts such as "kulich," a sweet bread with raisins and other dried fruits, and "babka," a yeast cake with raisins, may also be served. The Easter meal in Ukraine is a time to enjoy traditional foods, share stories and memories, and celebrate the joy of the Easter season.

Are there any special decorations or symbols associated with Holy Week and Easter in Ukraine?

Yes, there are many special decorations and symbols associated with Holy Week and Easter in Ukraine. One of the most important is the pysanka, a decorated Easter egg that is an important part of Ukrainian folk art. The egg symbolizes new life and new beginnings, and is often decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs and symbols. In addition to pysanky, other traditional decorations include flowers, branches, and greenery, which are used to decorate homes and churches during Holy Week and Easter. Crosses, icons, and other religious symbols are also common decorations during this time. Finally, in some parts of Ukraine, it is traditional to decorate Easter baskets filled with food and other items for blessing at the church.

Are there any traditional Easter games or activities in Ukraine?

Yes, there are several traditional Easter games and activities in Ukraine. One popular activity is the Easter egg hunt, where children search for decorated eggs hidden in their homes or gardens. Another traditional game is egg tapping, where players tap their Easter eggs against each other to see whose egg remains uncracked. In some regions of Ukraine, there is also a tradition of egg rolling, where people roll their decorated eggs down a hill, with the winner being the person whose egg travels the farthest without cracking.

Additionally, there are several traditional Easter songs and dances that are performed during Holy Week and Easter Sunday. These include the "Kolomyyka" dance, which involves a fast-paced dance accompanied by music played on traditional Ukrainian instruments such as the bandura and the tsymbaly. Overall, Easter in Ukraine is a time for joyful celebration and traditional customs that are deeply rooted in the country's rich cultural heritage.

Is Holy Week and Easter a public holiday in Ukraine?

Yes, Holy Week and Easter are both public holidays in Ukraine. Holy Week, which includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, is observed in the week leading up to Easter Sunday. Many businesses and schools may be closed during this time, and there may be special church services and processions held throughout the week. Easter Sunday is also a public holiday in Ukraine, and it is a time for families to gather and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. During this time, many people may attend church services, enjoy festive meals, and participate in traditional activities such as egg decorating and egg cracking games.

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