by Apr 12, 2018

Every spring, in Ukraine, families gather to dye and decorate eggs, creating beautiful and often elaborate designs with bright colors. This might sound similar to how we celebrate Easter in the United States, but instead of searching for the hidden eggs, Ukrainians give them as gifts. The tradition dates back to the early days of Christianity.

In many parts of the world, it used to be customary to fast for Lent. You would refuse any food that was made from animals until Resurrection Sunday — no meat, eggs, milk, or cheese. Of course, hens didn’t stop laying eggs during this time, and since you couldn’t eat the eggs, people decorated them instead and gave them to one another as gifts. Receiving a basket full of gorgeous eggs was quite a gift to a family with very little. They might admire the eggs until Easter Sunday, when they could enjoy them as a meal.

Today, while people don’t usually fast anymore, the tradition of decorating and giving eggs is still practiced in much of Eastern Europe. Even during Communist rule, when leaders were doing their best to ban religion, decorating the eggs was a way to practice Christianity in the face of secular mandates.

In addition to a beautiful basket of eggs, you might receive a loaf of paska — a glazed bread often decorated with braided designs — during Easter in Ukraine. Paska translates to “passion,” a fitting name for the “passion holiday.” Beyond serving as beautiful and tasty gifts, a basket of eggs and a loaf of paska are symbols of what Easter is truly about: resurrection and life.

As you sit down to enjoy your Easter dinner this year, remember what the holiday is all about and the one who gave His life for us.