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Easter

29.06.2011

On Easter Sunday the churches are beautifully decorated with white lilies. Joyful religious music is heard and sermons ring with hope. Children and their parents traditionally attend church, usually wearing new spring clothes. The mothers and their daughters wear colorful flowered hats. Many other traditions and popular customs, which probably go back to pagan times, are also associated with Easter throughout Europe, for example, the sending of Easter cards and the giving of Easter eggs. Eggs are a symbol of life and fertility or recreation of spring. It was not however until the 19th century, that the practice of giving and exchanging eggs at Easter was introduced in England.

Easter custom, the barrels are gratefully emptied by the participants. In London there is Easter Parade in Battersea Park. What used to be merely an occasion for sporting the latest fashions in the park on Easter Sunday has now developed into one of the most spectacular carnival processions of the year, with military bands, decorated floats, Easter Princess, and all.

Another thing English people traditionally eat at Easter is hot cross-buns. One would hardly use them to cure whooping cough, but in bygone days buns, which had been baked on Good Friday, were thought to have magical healing powers. Because of the spices they contain, hot cross-buns seldom go moldy, and even today country housewives hang a few from the kitchen beams to dry. When needed, the buns can be powdered, mixed with milk or water and given as a medicine. Of course, for the magic cure to work, they have to be buns that were actually baked on Good Friday. For Easter dinners at family reunions Englishmen traditionally eat baked ham or chicken with a famous English apple-pie to follow/ For a good apple pie you will need: 1 lb apples (500 gm) 4 oz flour (100 gm) 2 oz butter or margarine (50 gm) 3 oz sugar (75 gm) 2 oz sultans (50 gm) 1 oz chopped nuts (25 gm) 1-teaspoon cinnamon.

Now you can make a real English apple – pie. Here are the instructions. Put them in the correct order, and number the instructions 1 to 6: Mix the nuts, sultanas, cinnamon and half the sugar with the apples. Bake in a medium oven (300F) for 30 minutes. Peel and core the apples. Cut them into small pieces and put them into a baking dish. Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples.

Rub the soft butter into the flour with your finger – tips. When the butter melts, the mixture will look like bread – crumbs. Add the rest of the sugar. And now serve the pie hot with cream. Enjoy it! And as Russians say, Christ is risen! Expecting the answer, Christ is risen indeed!

VI. Easter in England

Easter it is a time for the giving and receiving of presents which traditionally take the form of an Easter egg and hot cross buns. The Easter egg is by far the most popular emblem of Easter, but fluffy little chicks, baby rabbits and spring time flowers like daffodils, dangling catkins and the arum lily are also used to signify the Nature’s awakening.

Nowadays Easter eggs are usually made of chocolate or marzipan or sugar. True Easter eggs are hard-boiled, dyed in bright colours, and sometimes elaborately decorated. Colouring and decorating the festival eggs seems to have been customary since time immemorial They can be dipped into a prepared dye or, more usually, boiled in it, or they may be boiled inside a covering of onion peel Natural dyes are often used for coloring today. They are obtained from flowers, leaves, mosses, bark, and wood-chips.

Egg-rolling is a traditional Easter pastime which still flourishes in Britain. It takes place on Easter Sunday or Monday, and consists of rolling coloured, hard-boiled eggs down a slope until they are cracked and broken after which they are eaten by their owners. In some districts this is a competitive game. But originally egg-rolling provided an opportunity for divination. Each player marked his or her egg with an identifying sign and then watched to see how it sped down the slope. If it reached the bottom unscathed, the owner could expect good luck in the future, but if it was broken, unfortune would follow before the year was out, Eating hot cross buns at breakfast on Good Friday morning is a custom which is also flourishing in most English households. Formerly, these round, cakes marked with a cross, eaten hot, were made by housewives who rose at dawn; for the purpose, or by local bakers who worked through the night to have them ready for delivery to their customers in time for breakfast. There is an old belief that the true Good Friday bun — that is, one made on the anniversary itself— never goes moldy, if kept in a dry place. It was once also supposed to have curative powers, especially for ailments like dysentery, diarrhea, whooping cough, and the complaint known as summer sickness. Within living memory, it was still quite usual in country districts for a few buns to be hung from the kitchen ceiling until, they are needed. When illness came the bun was finely grated and mixed with milk or water, to make a medicine, which the patient drank.

Easter in Ukraine and Russia

In Ukrainian, Easter is called Velikden (The Great Day). It has been celebrated over a long period of history and has many rich folk traditions that are no longer fully preserved. The last Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday) is called Willow Sunday (Verbna nedilia). On this day pussy-willow branches are blessed in the church. The people tap one another with these branches, repeating the wish: ‘Be as tall as the willow, as healthy as the water, and as rich as the earth’.

The week before Easter, the Great Week (Holy Week), is called the White or Pure Week. During this time an effort is made to finish all fieldwork before Thursday, since from Thursday on work is forbidden. On the evening of’Pure’ (also called ‘Great’ or ‘Passion’ [Strasnyi]) Thursday, the passion (strasti) service is performed, after which the people return home with lighted candles. Maundy Thursday, called ‘the Eater of the dead’ in eastern Ukraine and Russia, is connected with the cult of the dead, who are believed to meet in the church on that night for the Divine Mass.

On Passion (Strasna) Friday – Good Friday – no work is done. In some localities, the Holy Shroud (plashchanytsia) is carried solemnly three times around the church and, after appropriate services, laid out for public veneration. For three days the community celebrates to the sound of bells and to the singing of spring songs – vesnianky. Easter begins with the Easter matins and high mass, during which the pasky (traditional Easter breads) and pysanky and krashanky (decorated or colored Easter eggs) are blessed in the church. Butter, lard, cheese, roast-suckling pigs, sausage, smoked meat, and little napkins containing poppy seeds, millet, salt, pepper, and horseradish are also blessed. After the matins all the people in the congregation exchange Easter greetings, give each other krashanky, and then hurry home with their baskets of blessed food.

The pysanky and krashanky are an old pre-Christian element and have an important role in the Eater rites. They are given as gifts or exchanged as a sign of affection, and their shells are put in water for the rakhmany (peaceful souls); finally, they are placed on the graves of the dead or buried in graves and the next day are taken out and given to the poor.

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