A not-so-traditional Ukrainian Easter

Traditional Ukrainian food photo courtesy of Noelle Young.

Noelle Young
Contributing Writer

Growing up Ukrainian Catholic meant many Catholic holidays celebrated in my family have a Ukrainian twist to them.

When it comes to Easter, Ukrainian Catholics do many things differently when celebrating this Holy Day.

This year was extra different due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has many people still quarantined in their homes. 

The food we typically eat on Easter Sunday is traditional Ukrainian-style food that consists of paska (braided bread), babka (sweet bread), horseradish mixed with shredded beets, pysanky (decorated eggs celebrating new life and rebirth), ham, kobasa (Ukrainian sausage) and kishka (sausage stuffed with meat and grain).

Photo of paska, Ukrainian braided bread.

My family incorporates other food into our Easter dinner, but these are the dishes found at every Ukrainian table on Easter. 

Unfortunately, many Ukrainian butcher shops and bakeries in Brooklyn were closed due to the pandemic, so we had to make do with the food we could get.

However, growing up in a Ukrainian home means always having the freezer stocked with kishka and kobasa.

As for my favorite dessert, cherry cheese babka, we unfortunately did not have that this year. 

On the day before Easter it is part of our culture to go to church to get our food blessed.

Going to church to get our food blessed is my favorite because everyone puts their beautiful pysanky and food in baskets to be blessed by the priests.

This isn’t a mass but rather a 20 minute ceremony where everyone stands around a table filled with the Easter baskets. The priest then goes around the table blessing the baskets and the people. 

However, this year many Ukrainian churches did not have an Easter basket blessing. Some of them did have a drive thru blessing.

Luckily, my church was one of the ones that did a drive thru blessing.

My family and I had to wait in line for about 15 minutes before getting blessed through the car windows.

This was obviously different and did not feel the same because the aspect of seeing the local Ukrainian community come together was missing. 

The next day my church did not hold an Easter Mass, but we were able to watch Mass on TV instead.

While celebrating Easter this year was different, the fact that most families were still able to celebrate in some way is a blessing in itself.                          

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