Easter is the feast of Christ’s resurrection. Easter (in Ukrainian: ‘Velykden’ ) is preceded by seven weeks of Lent. It is the most cheerful holiday for Orthodox believers.
In Ukraine Easter is called Velykden (The Great Day). In Ukraine Easter has been celebrated over a long period of history and has had many rich folk traditions.
Velykden was celebrated thousands of years ago as the victory of the Light over the Dark, Day over Night, Spring over Winter. The Resurrection was celebrated only from 988 when Kiev Rus was baptized.
The last Sunday before Easter is called Willow Sunday (Verbna nedilia). On this day pussy-willow branches are blessed in the church.
The week before Easter, the Great (Velykyi) Week (Holy Week), is called the White (Bilyi) or Pure (Chystyi) Week. During this time an effort is made to finish all field work before Thursday, since from Thursday on work is forbidden. Pure (Maundy) Thursday is connected with ritual of clarification by water.
On Passion (Strasna) Friday—Good Friday—no work is done. In some localities, the Holy Shroud (plashchanytsia) is carried solemnly three times around the church.
Saturday evening people gather in the church for the Easter vigil till the very morning when priests bless the food believers brought. After that people go home to celebrate Easter with their families. If they meet other people on the way they say: “Christ is risen!” and these people should reply “Risen indeed”. All the people exchange Easter greetings and give each other painted eggs (krashanky).
Easter cake (‘Kulich’) and painted eggs (‘Krashanki’) are the symbols of Ukrainian Easter. On this Day Ukrainian kids play their favorite Easter game: knocking the eggs. If you knock somebody’s egg and you egg is not broken than you are the winner.