Today we celebrate Paskha (Easter) – the biggest and the most important religious holiday in Orthodox Christianity. In Ukrainian language it is called “The Great Day” (“Великдень”). And it is really the greatest day of the whole year. I like to celebrate it and I’m always looking forward to it.
I am not a very religious person, I don’t follow the Christian rules, don’t keep the fast and not well informed about other Orthodox holidays. I visit churches only as a tourist and I like them from architectural point of view. But one day (actually night) per year I always attend a service at some church. This day is Easter of course.
As far as I remember myself my grand-dad always took me to the church for the Easter. We woke up about 4 am, took a basket with kulitchi (cakes), eggs and so on, went to bless them to the church nearby, stayed there for not a long time and came back home. I grew up. Now I go to the church with my friends for the Easter service every year. It starts with a long ringing of bells and the religious procession. It’s my favorite part. I don’t know why but I love so much these church bells. I feel it with all my soul and it’s one of the best feelings I ever had in my life. Then the service continues in the church. About 3 am there is another procession outside: people stand around the church with their baskets and with candles, a priest go around and sprinkle them (people and baskets:)) with holy water. It depends of the priest, but usually you get almost completely wet after this :) Then the wet and happy people go home to sleep. But the service continues and the priests make few more processions.
I go home after the first blessing. This time I was at the cathedral in the center so I had to take a subway. It is the only day when the public transportation works the whole night. So many people there after the service, almost like during the rush hours! And everybody is with the baskets :) I was happy that it is over and I can go home. It is very tiresome and stressful to stand for three hours. After this I feel good because of the holiday and I feel bad because my back and legs hurt just awfully. I even think every time that I will not do it anymore but the next year if somebody proposes me to go to the church I answer “yes, of course!”. Surprisingly a lot of people go to the church and stand the whole mass. There are also a lot of youth and children.
I have to say that I don’t know almost anything about the services at the church. But every time I listen to it and notice something new for me. The last year I got to know that they use other languages during one part of the service (like Greek, Latin, English etc). This time I heard the Creed and was very proud of myself that I can recognize it :) Maybe the next year I could already sing something, but I doubt.
Sunday morning people start to call or to meet to congratulate each other with the holiday. This day instead of the usual greetings they say “Христос воскрес!” – Christ is risen! And the answer is “Воистину воскрес” – In truth risen. People give cakes and colored eggs to each other. At our home we make a lot of Paskha cakes and eat them for a week or two. I love them and I can eat it as a normal meal three times per day or even more. It’s always so pity when they finish coz no one do it more than once per year. So my Paskha cakes time has started today!!