‘The Great Day’: Add Ukrainian Easter traditions to your holiday

Culture. Ukrainian food, fun, and games will enrich every celebration. And don’t be afraid to try some of those artful eggs: with some guidance, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own Easter masterpieces.

| 05 Apr 2022 | 12:04

Easter, or Velykden (“The Great Day”), is celebrated in Ukraine with an array of traditions.

Easter in Ukraine follows the Orthodox Christian calendar; it falls one week after the Catholic holiday (Orthodox Easter this year is April 24; other Christians celebrate on April 17).

Holy Week begins on Willow Sunday, when the faithful decorate their homes with willow switches. Then begin the all-important weeklong food preparations.


Food is the focal point of most holidays, and Easter in Ukraine is no exception. The week before is spent preparing traditional dishes.

The season begins with Lent, when Orthodox Christians give up eating animal products — meat, dairy, and eggs.

The foods eaten on Easter are are not only delicious but symbolic:

● Paska — Easter bread — represents the joy of the new life given by Jesus Christ.

● Kielbasa — a spicy pork sausage — is a reminder of God’s love.

● Horseradish symbolizes the Passion, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

● Eggs represent life reborn. Speaking of eggs...

Pysanky and krashanky

The decorated Easter eggs of Ukraine are world-famous for their intricate designs and sumptuous use of color. Each one is a work of art.

These ornate eggs have two variations: pysanky and krashanky.

A pysanka (singular of psyanky) is made with a raw egg: Drill a small hole at the bottom and let it drain completely. In this way, the egg can be preserved.

Pysanky are covered in hand-drawn designs that have religious and natural themes. The name derives from “pysaty,” meaning “to write.” This craft is passed down from generation to generation.

A krashanka (singular of krashanky) is made with a hard-boiled egg so that they may be eaten at the Easter feast. These eggs are usually far less intricate.


If you want to learn the art of pysanky while also supporting Ukraine in its present crisis, Goshen Green Farms in Goshen, N.Y. (goshengreenfarm.com), is holding a workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. The cost is $50, with all proceeds going to the people of Ukraine.

Daria Bonomini is resuming Ukrainian egg decorating classes at Warwick Valley Olive Oil Company and at the Hotel in Crystal Springs.

"Ukrainians continue this artwork throughout the world and have done it for centuries,” said Bonomini.


In Ukraine, you’re less likely to find a basket filled with chocolate bunnies or plastic eggs hiding candy and coins.

Instead, Easter baskets are filled with the foods to be eaten later in the day — the paska, kielbasa, krashanky, and all the rest — and taken to church in the morning to be blessed.


There is no Easter Bunny or elaborate egg hunts in Ukraine. But Ukrainians have their own fun, with every family playing their own games to celebrate.

One popular game is known as “Egg Knocking,” or “Egg Battles.” The rules are simple: Each combatant chooses an egg, then uses it to crack the others. When your egg cracks you have to eat it, and you’re also out of the game.

Here’s what you’ll need:
A kistka (wax pen)
Powdered dyes
A pencil
Room-temperature egg
White vinegar
Rubber bands
Step 1: Find a pattern you like: Learnpysanky.com has some beginner-friendly options.
Step 2: Prep your egg: Hold it up to the light to reject any with imperfections, like surface cracks or bumps. Then gently clean the shell with a solution of 1 tablespoon of vinegar added to 1 cup of water. Tap the shell to dry; don’t rub.
Step 3: Prep your dyes: Your powdered dyes come with instructions.
Step 4: Draw your design onto the egg with a light pencil. Use a rubber band as a guide when drawing straight lines. Do not try to erase mistakes; the faint pencil lines won’t be visible on the completed egg.
Step 5: Heat the head of the kistka with the candle’s flame for 20-30 seconds. Scoop some beeswax into the funnel on the kistka and reheat until the wax is melted. Test the flow of the wax on an old newspaper. Since the wax instantly bonds to the eggshell, make sure the flow is right before beginning.
Step 6: Once you’re satisfied with the flow of the wax, begin tracing your penciled design with the kistka. Make sure to get all sides of the egg.
Step 7: It’s time for the first dye, which will not stain any portion of the egg covered by wax. Place your egg on the spoon and dip it into the dye mixture. Let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Step 8: Remove the egg with the spoon and dab dry with tissues. Repeat the process — add another layer of wax, then dip into the same dye or another color — until you’re happy with the design.
Source: Learnpysanky.com
Imagine, after many weeks of a restricted diet, the sight of a gorgeous Ukrainian table spread, with its array of tempting dishes.