Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kristos Voskres! Vo Istinu Voskres!

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

Happy Easter everyone!  For those of you who don't know, in the Ukranian tradition one greets another person on Easter by saying, "Kristos voskres!" (Christ is Risen!).  That person then responds, "Vo istinu voskres!" (Indeed He is risen!).  That's only one of my favorite things about Easter.  So, let me tell you about some of my other favorite traditions.

Easter Baskets
For anyone who thinks they have outgrown Easter baskets obviously isn't Ukranian.  Granted, my baskets were never stuffed with toys and candy, but they did have a few treats in them.  Plus I save some really great treats for Easter.  My baskets are filled with a tasty bread called Babka and kielbasa (way better than what Hillshire Farms could ever offer).  Let me explain why.

In the Byzantine tradition, church goers have their Easter meal blessed.  Really, let's think about this.  It's kind of difficult to carry a ham platter, stuffing, and mashed potatoes to church.  So, we carry baskets.  The specifics of each basket differ, but you can pretty much figure there will be meat, cheese, bread, butter, and dessert.  Some people add fruit or other tasty treats.  Due to the move, mine was little lacking this year, so let me talk about last year's basket.  I had babka and kielbasa (like I already said).  Babka is a cake, but it's not too sweet and pretty dry.  It works as a bread, a dessert, or as breakfast.  It's tasty.  I also put in gouda cheese (I like's a personal preference), plain butter, dyed eggs (pysanka), and, of course, a chocolate bunny.  I also sprinkled a few jelly beans in the basket.  There's no Ukranian tradition about that, but Baba (my grandma) used to do it every year, and she'd often "accidentally" drop one for the dog who would subsequently get the jelly bean stuck on his tooth.  Cody eats the beans, but they've never gotten stuck.  Lastly, the baskets are covered with what can only be described as art.  Beautiful!

The Music
At least, at the little Ukranian church I go to for Easter Mass, the music is very simple, all a cappela, and beautiful.  My favorite, of course, is the Kristos Voskres.  Don't ask me to spell the whole thing in Ukranian, but at least I know the English translation.  "Christ is risen from the dead.  By death he conquered death, and to those in the grave he granted life."  We always end up singing that about 15 times (or more) throughout the Mass, both in Ukranian and English.  I love it!

The Mass
The Ukranian Mass isn't too different from the regular Mass.  It just has a few extras.  I love the incense, the music, the traditions.  It's just plain beautiful.

The Blessings
 Like I already mentioned, the Priest blesses the Easter meal (which is in baskets).  That blessing is so beautiful.  Something I hadn't mentioned was in the baskets is also a candle, and sometimes people add flowers to make it pretty and colorful.  The priest (or deacon) lights all the candles, and the room is filled with light and incense, and the smell of tasty foods.  It's just beautiful.

At the end of the Mass, we're all also blessed with oil before we leave.  How great is it to renew our confirmation, baptismal, and Eucharistic vows before embarking out into the world?

While this Mass isn't for everyone, I'm thrilled that Hans enjoys going to it, and even more thrilled that he actually participates.  I LOVE this yearly tradition, and plan on sharing it with my children in the hopes that they'll share it with they're children.


  1. I had no idea you are Ukrainian! Me too (part). I would love to go to that little church sometime.

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