Today was a nostalgic Easter, in some ways. After attending a Roman Catholic Easter Vigil Mass (the mother of all vigils for the queen of feasts the Mass program proclaimed) that lasted two hours and fifteen minutes last night, I found myself at loose ends for a lot of the day. As today is also Easter in the Orthodox Christian Churches, my thoughts drifted back to the Carpatho-Rusyn Easters we used to celebrate with my mother's side of the family when I was small.
There are several things that I remember about Easter with my maternal Grandparents. One is the classic call and response. People greeted each other with "Christos Voskrese!" (Christ is risen!), which elicited the response "Voistinu Voskrese!" (Indeed he is risen!). Another was the unusual foods we used to eat. No cooking was traditionally allowed on Easter Sunday, so all food was cooked ahead of time and served either cold or at room temperature. There was hrudka which was essentially a large, round, cold scrambled egg made from milk and eggs that had been hung out to dry for a few hours. There was Pascha, a special decorated Easter bread made from a Challah-like egg dough. The decorations consisted of braids and fish-shapes made of dough. There was ground beets and horseradish (I hated to be in the house when this was made because the horseradish would stink up the kitchen). There was ham, kielbasa, and veal roast, all served cold. Finally, there was butter -- in the shape of a small lamb.
The meal was in so many ways religious.
All of it seemingly had some kind of symbolic value. Most of this food was generally loaded into a basket during the days before Easter to be taken somewhere to be blessed by the local Priest (at my grandparents' it was a house about half a block away). Articles on the web tell me that this is because Lent is completely meatless in the Orthodox Church, and that it seemed important for the first meats consumed for 40 days to be blessed.
My web researches also unraveled the meaning of another memory from my youth. My grandparents always seemed to have pussywillows in their house. I discovered that this is because the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe gave these out on Palm Sunday instead of palm fronds. I wonder if I could find some around here -- it seems like an interesting way to remember them.
on 2007-04-08 at 10:49 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond