Byzantine Easter baskets

Here’s a bit about the traditional Easter basket in the Byzantine Church tradition.

These baskets of food are brought to the church to be blessed after the Resurrection matins Service. The foods represent the foods abstained from during Lent: eggs, meat, butter, rich breads and more. All meals on Easter Sunday are eaten from the basket, so that no one need be busy with preparation of additional food on such a solemn Holy Day.

Each basket is covered with a cloth usually embroidered with the words "Christ is Risen" and containing a lighted candle, which is also usually decorated. The traditional basket contains the Easter bread called Pascha, Ham, Hrudka or Siret egg cheese), sausages, kolbasi, butter, hard-boiled decorated eggs (Pysanki), horseradish and beet mixture (Chrin), bacon, and salt. The contents of the basket vary from family to family in terms of additional meats, wine, pastries, candy and other treats. The traditional foods all have symbolic meaning which are briefly summarized as follows: [continue]

Chants of the Russian Orthodox Church

Now this is lovely. Here are the Monks and Choirs of Kiev Pechersk Lavra, with:

…26 hymns from the ancient church, sung by the monks of the historic Kiev-Pechersk cave monastery. Included are rare sacred music pieces by both Rachmaninov and the Italian composer J.Sarti, who was so enraptured by Orthodox singing that he left Italy for Russia in 1724 and lived there the rest of his life. Gorgeously layered, these venerable hymns bring together Byzantine traditions with those of old Russia.

(This post used to link to, where you were able to listen to, or purchase, the album. But that page on is gone, so I’ve removed the links.)

Irish Easter traditions

From the National Museum of Ireland’s Easter Traditions page:

Museum Curator, Clodagh Doyle, explains how people traditionally marked Easter. "People followed the rituals and ceremonies for all the days of Holy Week. They wore a piece of palm that had been blessed in church on Palm Sunday. They cleaned and whitewashed the house, yard, and byre in preparation for this important feastday and they abstained from work on Good Friday. New clothes were made or purchased to wear to Church on Easter Sunday. It was the most favoured time of the year for new clothes and often the only occasion.

In addition to its religious importance, Easter was also a time to protect the family’s health and well-being by eating eggs. The surplus of eggs that accumulated during Lent formed the main food for the Easter Sunday breakfast. Children decorated eggs and played different games with them. (…)

Pieces of meat cut from a joint that had been hung to dry or smoke for the duration of Lent was given to each member of the family on Easter Sunday to protect them from hunger for the coming year. Often a spoonful of Easter holy water was given to each member of the family to protect and bless them. Easter Blessings cards and Prayer cards were popularly given at this time and there are some on display at Turlough Park.

Easter Sunday was celebrated within the family with a welcome meal of meat and dairy produce as they had abstained from eating these during Lent. On Easter Monday there were often sports and races held in the community. Weddings were also popularly celebrated at this time as there were no celebrations permitted during Lent".

Czech Easter traditions

In the Czech tradition, today is Ugly Wednesday and tomorrow will be Green Thursday. Friday will be Good Friday, of course:

Good Friday was always regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as the day of greatest grief in the Church. It’s the only day in the year when Mass is not held anywhere in the world. Also, organs are silent, all ornaments are cleared from the altar, and no lights are burned. The cross is shrouded in a black veil.

Great Friday (Velký pátek) is the popular name for the day in the Czech Republic. Velký pátek is a day of fasting for Roman Catholics who will not eat meat until Saturday evening after the church bells start ringing on their legendary return from Rome.

On Velký pátek, Czech and Moravian cooks prepare their holiday bread (coffee cake) which must not be cut or eaten until the priest says, “Christ is risen!” (Kristus vstal z mrtvých!) on Easter Sunday. It is a universal custom to mark a new loaf of bread with the sign of the cross before cutting it, in order to bless it and thank God for it. On special occasions, the cross is imprinted on the loaf before baking it. Bread baked on Velký pátek – if hardened in the oven – can be kept all year, and its presence protects the house from fire. [continue]

Continuing with the Czech Easter stuff, you might also like to read about White Saturday, The Chasing and Burning of Judas, and The Red Eggs of Easter.