U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs, Bunnies and Russian Paskha

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

I should confess that I lead a double life. I celebrate most of the major holidays twice: in accordance with the local calendar and in accordance with the Russian calendar. Major religious holidays come one or two weeks later in Russia since the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar while the West employs the Gregorian calendar. April 19th is the date for Orthodox Easter (Paskha) this year. There are some other differences. In the West, there are Easter sunrise services, while Russian Orthodox Church Easter services last all through Saturday night. The congregation gathers in the church or cathedral on Saturday evening and takes part in an Easter vigil commemorating the buried Christ. Easter egg decoration is an important part of Easter traditions in Russia. The predominant color for egg dying in Russia is red.

The red dye is chosen because it symbolizes the blood of Christ. My grandmother and mother, among others, used onion peels to make a dye reminding of terracota color.
Another part of Easter celebrations in Russia is the family Easter dinner following the worship services. The Easter dinner is a sumptuous feast, in which the entire congregation celebrates together. Russian people traditionally bake Easter cakes, known as "kulich," and make curd paskha. In Soviet times, people didn't celebrate Easter openly. But as I remember, almost every family that I knew had kulich and dyed eggs that day. We, children, used to play a game - whose egg is stronger. One kid holds an egg in his/her fist showing just a bottom part of it, another hits it with the sharp end of his/her egg. Then, the eggs are turned. Sometimes, upon agreement, the winner could collect "defeated"eggs. My grandma told about other games played in old times, like, for example, whose egg will roll down further from a little kid-made mound. I showed my boys how to play the egg game and they do that every Easter.

Below, there are eggs painted by them at school, here in Washington state, in their art class. Those are real eggs done using an old Russian/Ukranian technique. You can tell by their design that they were made by boys, not girls. One of the eggs even resembles a football!

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

There is no such thing in Russia as the Easter bunny and an egg hunt.

There is one more tradition in Russia I'd like to mention. On Easter day, people greet each other with the words: - Christ has risen! - Risen, indeed! After that, people kiss each other on the cheeks three times even if they are total strangers.
At the end, there are a couple of pictures with really big Easter bunnies. I checked with Snopes, and the images are real.

Herman weighs in at 22 pounds and measures a little over 3 feet. He is a breed of rabbit called German Giant (how appropriate!).This is his owner, Hans Wagner, struggling to hold him up. From the NY Post article: "We don't feed him an unusual diet," said Wagner. "He goes through more than his brothers and sisters, but he eats the same food mix. His favorite food is actually lettuce. He can never get enough of it. "LOOK AT THOSE FEET!

More pictures of giant bunnies are here

Happy Easter everyone!


  1. Those eggs are so pretty, I love the designs on them. Do you think those giant bunnies are large enough?
    he he

  2. I am amazed at the details people can paint on eggs. Thanks for telling us about the Easter traditions. We say Jesus is risen, and risen indeed in our church services.

    Happy Easters!

  3. Those eggs really are beautiful. My husband's family is Greek Orthodox so they also celebrate Easter usually a week later. I was so confused by this at first! Their Easter is probably their most celebrated holiday, almost more than Christmas as far as food preparations, etc. I think your boys are very lucky that you are teaching them so much about your Russian traditions. My oldest daughter feels very special having traditions that not everyone else celebrates.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  4. A wonderful and informative post. Wishing you a Happy Easter, no matter what date you celebrate.


  5. I like reading about your russian background..
    In Sweden we dye eggs too...but we don't have the easterbunny..
    Here the maineasterevent is the children dressing like witches to go from house to house to collect candy...almost like the Halloweentradition in America.. There is not very much religion left in our eastertraditions.. Actually there is not much religion left in any of our traditions

  6. That was fascinating and I love the eggs, though it must need a lot of calendar watching. Anyway have a very Happy Easter.

  7. Танюша, с Праздником светлой Пасхи!!!Я предпологаю вы 2 раза отмечаете:) Яички , очень нежные:)!!! А кролик пасхальный, ятаких не видела:))) У него наверно боооооооольшая корзинка:)))

  8. Tatiana, Kristos Voskres - Voistinu Voskres!

    I hope you and your family have a happy (western) Easter Day, and that you will celebrate again next week. Thank you for the pictures of the eggs, and most especially the pics of those giant rabbits!

  9. Very nice post Tatyana and very informative. The eggs are beautiful. I agree, it is nice that you teach your sons Russian traditions.
    I've never forgotton a friend I had as a young girl. She was German and they were only allowed to speak English outside of their home. Back at the house they had to speak German so they wouldn't forget it. These traditions are nice and teach young people.

  10. Hi Tatyana~~ Reading about your Russian tradition is fascinating. I'm so glad your people are liberated and can celebrate Easter or any holiday as they please--openly. The eggs are magnificent. Your young men are very artistic! They must get that from their mother. Happy Easter to you, Tatyana.

  11. Oh my goodness! I've never seen such a huge rabbit.

  12. Hi Tatyana

    Those eggs are beautiful. The colours are so good.

    I can't believe the bunnies.

    You don't want to mess with them, they're enormous.


  13. Tatyana,
    Thanks so much for the information.
    My Moms parents belonged to a Russian Orthodox Church in Jersey City,NJ around 1906 til' both died in the 1920's. So much I missed out on not knowing them and of course my Mom remembered very little,she was only 5 years old.
    Happy Easter.

  14. Wow, I love those German Giant bunnies. They are so fluffy & adorable! They seem bigger than poodles. I'd replace them with poodles any day!!

  15. I love to read your blogs..I always learn something. So educational. It is interesting to learn about other culturesm and religions. The eggs are beautiful. I like using the red dye.....I think I may do that from now on.
    Hope you had a wonderful Easter

  16. Hi Tatyana, what fabulous eggs your boys have made. They are truly artistic and the eggs are beyond priceless. What a gift that teacher has given them. The eggs in my post were also made by a young man, long ago. A very close friend of mine is Russian orthodox, and she still practices the things you have mentioned in Texas. Traditions such as these are very important. It is who you are. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  17. Those flemish rabbits are amazing. I love your site so I hope to follow you This spring.

    Happy Easter to you!

  18. What a lovely Easter post! How wonderful you have the 'excuse' to celebrate twice:)
    That bunny is almost creepy its so big!
    Happy Easter season to you and yours:)

  19. Hi Tatyana~
    This was such an interesting post! I love learning about other cultures and traditions. I must say those eggs are incredibly beautiful, how cool that your mother and grandmother would use onions to make the red dye. The giant bunnies put a smile on my face :)


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