Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Paska in Ukraine

On the Saturday before Easter (the 14th), we visited one of the Orthodox churches here in Kharkov (prounounced "HAR-kuv) and found people bringing their Easter baskets to the priests for the sprinkling of holy water and the blessing of their Easter breads as is the tradition. I use the term "sprinkling" loosely. The priest we saw here was dipping a long-handled brush with long bristles into a bucket of water that was carried by a helper. He gave everyone the full amount of water from the bristles and would also include the heads and faces of the babushkas there. I had never realized they would use so much water!
This is a shot of the crowds that were pushing to get through the gates to the church later in the afternoon. I'm sure Sunday was even more crowded! Notice that the baskets are lined with cloth and the goodies are inside, then covered with another cloth.
This sweet babushka let us take her picture. You can see that her head is covered, which all women do when entering the holy area of the church. But, babushkas keep their heads covered with scarves at all times, wherever they are.
Needlework is an important tradition here. Their napkins and table linens are usually decorated with cross-stitch. You can see her cloth that covered her Paska food is cross-stitched with a cross and decorated egg, also an important tradition here.
The woman on the right was very young, probably 19. She is wearing short skirt, as is the tradition here (only babushkas wear long skirts). If you could see her head, you would see that she also has it covered. Inside these baskets are various food items to be used for the meal later that day...vegetables, sausages and meats and then the tall, frosted Paska bread that has a candle in it. The candle is the same kind they use in the churches. They light them and pray to the saint of their choice.
This was a display Natasha and I found on our way to church. You can see the tall Paskas with the frosting (usually powdered sugar and sprinkles) and candles. Also here are decorated eggs and baskets. Notice at the base of the trees the red and white? Those are representing white linens that have been cross-stitched with red floss.
And here is our Easter breakfast with Paska, butter, Russian cheese and herbal tea. I have a much better understanding of what a REAL, traditional Paska looks like now!

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