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Tucson’s Ukrainian community celebrates Easter traditions

Published: Apr. 17, 2022 at 10:24 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As war continues in Ukraine, Pope Francis is calling it an “Easter of war.”

Here in Tucson, members of the Ukrainian community came together to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and pray for their homeland now more than ever.

One of Ukraine’s most famous traditions is their intricate Easter eggs, known as pysanky, meaning “to write.” These are typically created the last week of Lent, and symbolize a celebration of spring, Easter, and new life.

The Ukrainian community in Tucson says these traditions hold an even stronger meaning this year.

“We hurt when we do this thinking about what kind of conditions they will have in Ukraine to be able to celebrate,” Ihor Kunasz, president of the Ukrainian Society of Tucson said.

The community has been holding strongly to their faith as they watch war unfold in their country. This year, gathering together for Easter services and traditions hold even more significance.

“The celebration of life, resurrection. I think if we help the Ukrainians they are going be able to win just like today, Kunasz said. “Resurrection was a win so we are sure that Ukraine will win also.”

“Of course it has a lot of significance and meaning for us, especially this year. There’s been so much blood shed and so much death. To be able to celebrate life and resurrection means so much,” Father Nicholas Kostyk said.

After the service, Father Nicholas blessed the Easter baskets with Holy Water. Each basket is covered with an embroidered cloth and decorated with pysanky, greenery, and flowers.

Inside the basket is Easter Brunch which includes bread, meats, horseradish, butter, and eggs. This meal breaks the Great Lent fasting.

“Food is very much a part of Ukrainian culture. Ukrainians are, by reputation, tremendously good cooks,” he said. Our whole life in many ways is lived around kitchens, foods, breads, meats. So, we fasted now from all meat and all dairy for 40 days during great lent and now the meat and the dairy has returned, the vetted calf has been slain and we are feasting with joy.”

Father Nicholas said while they’re celebrating Christ’s resurrection, the community is thinking and praying for their brothers and sisters still in Ukraine.

“It reminds us that you can’t really crush the human spirit, that Christ has risen from the dead and that rising from the dead has brought us the victory we hope for. There’s no earthly force that can take that from us,” he said.

The Ukrainian society said they are learning more refugees are making their way to the United States, and they are told more than 20,000 will go through the process of being admitted with humanitarian parole status.

Right now, the society is trying to keep track of agencies and programs to help these refugees. You can find more information here.

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