Ukrainian Easter in Wartime

by Agatha Kraytser

There are many religious holidays in Ukraine, but Easter is the most beloved and large-scale one. The preparation for this holiday begins more than a week before. People buy groceries, clean up in their homes, and arrange meeting with friends. The ritual of baking paska and coloring Easter eggs (krashanky), is a real art.

Paska and Krashanky in the Ukrainian Tradition

Even in such a difficult time, people were preparing for this holiday, although everything is different now. One of our important traditions on this day is going to church. People come with baskets of food to sanctify them with holy water. I love this tradition and it’s a mesmerizing spectacle. My grandma started taking me to church on Easter when I was barely 4 and since then, I’ve gone to church every year, except this one.

No Church Bells Just Air Raid Sirens

This year, on the night from Saturday to Sunday, we didn’t hear the typical ringing of church bells, but instead, the howl of a siren. It was dangerous to go to the church since we already know that Russian soldiers without remorse can take advantage of and target such a crowd of unarmed civilians. Therefore, we, like many Ukrainians, stayed at home for safety purposes. In the morning we went to my grandmother’s for breakfast. It was only my mother, brother and me went, since my uncle is at the front, and his wife and son are in Poland now. My grandmother was very sad, due to the fact that even on such a day she couldn’t see her son. She said that in her lifetime it had never been so quiet on that day. It’s true. Very few came to visit each other, many apartments are empty. People had to leave their homes.

After breakfast, we wanted to go for a walk because the weather was very warm. Unfortunately, we were unable to do this as an air raid alert was announced and we had to go to the shelter. The alarm didn’t stop until late in the evening and we had to spend the rest of the day in the shelter. This is the worst Easter holiday I’ve ever seen, but I believe there will be many more good ones. I believe that God is on our side. I believe that next year all Ukrainians will return to their relatives and together we will celebrate Easter and many other holidays as we love it loudly, cheerfully and peacefully.

Note: Agatha Krayster (a pseudonym) is a 20-year-old college student in the Kyiv region.