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  • Easter was the most important day of the liturgical year for our ancestors. After the long, hard winter, the holiday customs combined religious and pagan rituals celebrating spring, resurrection and fertility. The holiday followed a strict fast in which meat and dairy products were not eaten on specific days. During this Lenten period, singing and celebration had been forbidden so Easter was a joyful time.

    The holiday was preceded by Palm (Willow) Sunday and then the sorrowful Good Friday. Saturday was a day of preparation for the triumphant holiday which followed.

    A basket of foods were prepared and taken to be blessed by the local priest. A midnight liturgy in which the faithful with candles circled the church and re-entered to find Christ's grave thrown open and death defeated, was accompanied by the sonorous tolling of bells. The joyful greeting, "Christos Voskres" (Christ is risen!) and the reply "Voistinu Vokres" (He is risen,indeed!) echoed through the villages on this blessed night and the days that followed.

    In our villages, customs and recipes were passed down through generations and then carried over to the new world. The basket covered with an embroidered cloth contained:

          pascha
          butter
          kulich
          yayechnick
          meat roast
          sausage--kielbasi
          horseradish/beets
          dyed eggs
          candle

    The sharing of the blessed food in the Easter basket was a time of great joy and celebration in the old country villages and in the coal patches and milltowns of the Rusyn immigrants.

    If you know of village customs and recipes (or variations of those listed) that we do not have, please contact PatPelak@aol.com so that we may add your contribution to the website.
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