Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday or Passion Thursday ("Strastney Chetver") services recall the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The passion ("Strasti") service consists of the reading of twelve Gospels from the Bible which tell the entire story of the suffering and hardship of Christ. These Gospels are sung or read along with prayers and hymns.  Bells are rung after each chapter until the last one. At that time the bells are silenced and are not rung again until Easter morning.  After the bells are silenced, they are replaced by wooden clappers ("kalatala") which, when struck, sounds like the nails being driven into the cross. This is done as a sign of grief for Christ. Sometimes, the services include twelve candle bearers who stand near the altar. One bearer walks away with his candle at the end of the reading of each Gospel, to represent the Apostles who denied and deserted Christ. 

At the end of the "Strasti” service in Ukraine, a lighted candle was carefully carried home by each family. This special candle was used to burn a cross on the crossbeam of the home and was kept in the home until the next year. It was the first candle used during the year to begin any and all religious rituals and was always the candle placed in the hand of anyone who was dying. Usually, the candle was kept in front of one of the Icons in the home.

Good Friday