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All the пост in one post! Posted by on Mar 1, 2022 in Culture, Food, Holidays

For a while now, and especially in the past few days, Ukraine has been in the headlines. How much do we know about this incredibly diverse country, the largest located entirely in Europe? Today I would like to explore the country going into the season of Lent, as this largely Christian country, mostly Orthodox in the East and mostly Catholic in the west, is a great study for religious traditions in Eastern Europe. As the season of Lent is upon us, let’s explore how it is observed.

In Russian, “Lent” is Вели́кий пост, literally translated as “The Great Fast” (as it does in Ukrainian, too). During the time of Вели́кий пост, ве́рующие the faithful/believers prepare themselves for the celebration of Па́сха Easter. It is a time of покая́ние repentance and a commemoration of how Христо́с пости́лся в пусты́не со́рок дней Christ fasted in the desert for forty days.

Фото автора Julia Volk: Pexels

Пра́здники, отмеча́емые в неде́лю пе́ред Вели́ким посто́м1Holidays observed in the week before Lent

In Ukraine, the week before Lent is marked by celebrations of food called Ма́сленица Maslenitsa, which is an Eastern Slavic equivalent to Карнава́л Carnaval, which is celebrated largely in Catholic countries. In Ukraine, traditional food includes варе́ники dumplings (usually boiled, similar to Polish pierogi) and сы́рники. It also includes an interesting tradition known as Коло́дка Kolodka, a Slavic tradition observed traditionally by Ukrainians, in which a small log was tied to the legs of young men and women who had not managed to get married before the season started, as punishment. The young men and women had to “buy” their freedom back.

Осо́бые дни, отмеча́емые в тече́ние Вели́кого поста́2Special days observed during Lent

Пе́пельная среда́ – The Catholic tradition of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, in which пе́пел ashes are smeared on the foreheads of believers as a sign of mortality and repentance. This tradition would be found in Roman Catholic communities in places like Львов Lviv, located in the western part of the country.

Прощёное воскресе́нье – in the eastern Christian religion, this day is marked by asking forgiveness, прощение of those dear to you. This has actually become a tradition in wider society, beyond just believers, in which people will ask each other forgiveness or post on social media, urging followers to forgive them for whatever bad they may have done.

Чи́стый понеде́льник – This is the technical first day of Lent in the Eastern Church. Known as Clean Monday, it is the day that believers leave behind sin and non-fasting food.

Стра́стная седми́ца (неде́ля) Holy (Passion) week – After a long time of fasting and repentance, you made it to the last week.

Верба, pussy willow, used on Вербное воскресенье in lieu of palm branches.
Фото автора Alena Koval: Pexels

Ве́рбное воскресе́нье Willow Sunday – This holiday is celebrated in both Eastern and Western churches as the Sunday before Easter. It is a celebration of Вход Госпо́день в Иерусали́м The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. While this is known as Palm Sunday in English, in countries like Ukraine there are typically no palms available, and so the willow tree, traditionally an important tree in Slavic tradition, replaced it. On this day, битьё бе́рбой beating with a willow (usually of children by adults) was an important part of the celebration.

Страстна́я (Вели́кая) пя́тница Good (Great) Friday – This day is the commemoration of распя́тие the crucifixion. In the Eastern church it is celebrated with carrying out the плаща́ница, a large image of the dead Christ embroidered on a cloth. In the Western church, usually the Кре́стный ход Stations of the Cross is performed, where the story of Стра́сти Христо́вы the Passion of Christ is told.

Пита́ние во вре́мя Вели́кого поста́3Food during Lent

In the Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic traditions, a strict fast is followed, in which food is prescribed by the church. If you check out this website, you can see a календарь питания по дням a day-by-day calendar of food for the 2022 fast. Here we can see a variation of permitted food on each day:

По́лное воздержа́ние от пи́щи complete abstinence from food: вы́сшая сте́пень стро́гости поста́ the most strict fast

Сухоя́дение dry (uncooked) foods: потребле́ние нева́реной пи́щи расти́тельного происхожде́ния: хлеб, вода́, соль, сыры́е фру́кты и о́вощи, сухофру́кты, оре́хи, мёд;

Горя́чая пи́ща с расти́тельным ма́слом hot food with vegetable oil: разреша́ется ва́реная расти́тельная пи́ща (ка́ши, супы́, тушёные о́вощи, грибы́) с добавле́нием ма́сла;

Орехи и сухофрукты nuts and dried fruits, some of the foods allowed during the fast.
Фото автора Monstera: Pexels

In the Catholic tradition, found in the west of the country, the пост is much less regimented and typically includes abstinence from meat on Fridays.

This was a quick rundown of how Lent is celebrated in Ukraine. I would like to wish everyone a happy Масленица Maslenitsa, Жирный вторник Fat Tuesday, or just a quick arrival of spring. And, most importantly, as anyone of any creed and religion can say: Нет войне́! No to war!

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    Holidays observed in the week before Lent
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    Special days observed during Lent
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    Food during Lent
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