In Ukraine, Easter is called Welykden, the “big day”. Ukrainian traditions of Easter are unique and incredibly colorful. One of the most important days in the year is Ukrainian Easter Sunday. This year it fell on April 24th, 2022 – one week after the German Easter celebrations and precisely two months after the beginning of the war of aggression against Ukraine.
Orthodox and Roman Catholic Easter do not always fall on the same day because of the moon and the church calendar, i.e., the differences between the Gregorian and Julian church calendars.
According to the Orthodox rule, Easter must fall on a Sunday after the Jewish festival of Passover. The Ukrainian word пасха [paskha] derives from the Jewish word “Pessah”. At Easter, many Ukrainians greet each other with the words “Christus woskres,” which means “Christ is risen”. The answer to that should be: “Во истину Воскрес” [wojsstynu wosskress!] – “He has indeed risen”.
“We want to keep the spirit of this festival that is so important to us. This day stands for hope and new life,” says Ganna Preine-Kosach, vice-president of the UKRAINIAN FUTURE Aid Association. “This year, many families could not celebrate Easter like in the years before – that’s why we organized this Easter festival.”
On Sunday, April 24th, around 1200 Ukrainians who had found refuge in Hamburg gathered in Moorweidepark to celebrate Easter with other Ukrainian families and, above all, in Ukrainian tradition. “Easter is traditionally a family celebration, and that’s why we wanted to emulate this family spirit together with our partner “Circus Europa” and a private donor from Hamburg. We brought many Ukrainian families together with this festival, which created a feeling of togetherness that is incredibly valuable in these difficult times,” says Ganna Preine-Kosach.
An important symbol of Ukrainian Easter is the Easter basket. The artistically decorated Easter eggs Pysanka from Ukraine are world-famous and belong to one of the oldest traditions of Ukrainian folk art. Traditionally, Easter cakes, known as paska, and eggs are taken to church to be consecrated. At this year’s Easter festival in the Moorweidepark, each family received a basket with colorful Easter eggs, sausages, bread, and paska. The Easter baskets were sprinkled with holy water and blessed by Father Yaroslav of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in diaspora from St. Nicholas parish.
After the blessing of the Easter baskets, there was an extraordinary circus performance with clowns and acrobats, which made both children and adults laugh and smile. “We received so much positive feedback from Ukrainians who participated in this Easter celebration. We are very grateful to our sponsors and the organization team that we made such a festival possible for so many Ukrainians,” says Ganna Preine-Kosach. “From the blue and yellow ribbons on the Easter baskets to the Ukrainian embroidered shirts, it almost felt like home.”