This post continues exploring traditions associated with Holy Pascha (Easter) and focuses on the Easter baskets.
Pascha is the Feast of Feasts and Christians prepare for it by fasting and prayer. Pascha is the day when fasting ends. For this reason Christians bring baskets with food to Church for blessing. These baskets include food which is usually not eaten during fasting such as cheese, meat dishes, and hard boiled eggs.
Families come to Church (usually around midnight on Sunday or early on Sunday morning) and bring their baskets. When the Easter service in Church ends, people usually take their baskets outside the Church, light a candle, and stay in rows waiting for the priest to come and bless them. In Ukraine there are two most important ingredients in Easter baskets, they are Easter bread (paska) and Easter eggs (pysanky and krashankas). Easter bread symbolizes the fullness of life and eggs remind of resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The tradition holds that it was Equal to the Apostles, Mary Magdalene who initiated the tradition of giving eggs on Easter. One day she stood before Emperor Tiberias. All people were supposed to bring a gift to the emperor – rich people brought expensive things and poor people brought what they could. Mary Magdalene brought an egg to help her explain to the pagan emperor how life can spring from a seemingly dead object. This was a metaphor to refer Jesus Christ’s resurrection from a tomb. The emperor exclaimed that this was as impossible as for the white egg that Mary had brought to become red. The egg then turned bright red in Mary Magdalene’s hand.
This tradition has continued to our days. After Church people take their Easter baskets and share their blessed Easter bread and eggs with their family, friends, neighbours, and the needy and greet one another with a special greeting on Holy Pascha.