Great Fast

After Christianity came to Ukraine, the coming of spring took on new meaning, as it also signaled the approach of Easter. The forty days preceding Easter are known as the "Great Fast” (or Lenten Period) and are spent by the faithful readying themselves spiritually for the great day when Christ’s Resurrection will be celebrated.

Prayer and penitence are a part of the “Great Fast”. The faithful often deny themselves certain types of food and recreation in order to express remorse for their sins. "Stations of the Cross” are usually held on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. The “Stations" represent the fourteen instances of pain and suffering that Jesus endured in his final day on earth over two thousand years ago.

During the “Great Fast", there are also special services held for the deceased members of each parish. These requiem services, know as "Sorokousty”,   usually involve the reciting of the names of individual family members from the parish who have died. The word "Sorokousty" literally means "forty monks”, and refers back to a time when requiem services were held in monasteries by forty monks who would pray in unison for the souls of the deceased.  It was also tradition in Ukraine that, during the period of the "Great Fast", parishioners make it a “duty" to make a good confession of their sins. This would be done so that their souls may be prepared for the reception of the Body of Christ on Easter morning. Another custom closely following the idea of the "Easter Duty" was that of reconciliation of relatives and neighbors when there had been problems or difficulties in the family or neighborhood. 

In Ukraine, Lent was also a time when great attention was paid preparing the home and family clothing for the arrival of Easter: Much fixing up and whitewashing was done to the home and articles of clothing were repaired and cleaned. In recognition of the new life of Christ‘s raising from the dead, each family member was also provided with some new article of clothing.


Holy Week