Easter Feast

Dating to pre-Christian times, and now for over a thousand years of Christianity, spring is greeted in Ukraine through  joyful songs, games and ceremonial round dances known as "Vennianky" and "Hahilky". Vesnianky dating back to Ukrainian pagan times, in the fourth century A.D. or earlier express the gentle ancestors of today's free Ukrainians who live in harmony with nature and feel the great joy of spring. Vesnianky express this joy by the creation of songs, dances, and games which imitate and celebrate nature, and are still performed today at the end of the forty-day Lenten period before Orthodox Easter which greets - "Velykden - The Great Day", and sometimes continue until the following 'green feasts'.

Because it is known that Christ was crucified after Passover, the date for Easter falls after Passover and on the fourteenth day of Nisan (the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year and around the vernal equinox) which is a fixed date in the Jewish lunar calendar. Currently, churches using the Gregorian calendar (13 days earlier than the Orthodox Julian calendar) calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon that comes on or after the vernal equinox (March 21). Easter therefore can fall within a 35 day period between March 22nd and April 25th, inclusive. Churches using the Julian calendar, but through the different method of calculation may celebrate Easter or Velykden anywhere from one to five days later.

The author of the DISK later explains in more detail sophisticated seasonal traditions that arise between the period of March 1st to May 31st.

Vesnianky (or spring songs) are commonly performed on Easter Day by young girls at the forest edge or in the open forest, on the bank of rivers, in the village square or in the churchyard near the cemetery. Song and movement are combined in many ways, sometimes as two-part choral groups, sometimes as synchronized round movements combined with song, and their themes are mostly concerned with welcoming the sun, the burial of winter, and calling upon the forces of nature. The young maidens are dressed in a lightly embroidered chemise, a brightly colored skirt, and wear garlands of spring flowers on their heads. Usually the girls form a circle— symbolizing the sun—performing round dances while singing spring songs.