The Christian holiday of Pentecost, celebrated on the fiftieth day after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks. This feast is filled with traditions for Ukrainians:
• Obligatory church holiday
• Priests wear green vestments
• First sign of spring is green and new life
• Church entrance is decorated with green branches
• Green on icons in the church
• In Ukraine green branches are placed on roadside chapels and during that day a Moleben is prayed at each chapel with all people from the village in attendance
• Usually that day they go around the church and pray at four stations and these are decorated with green branches
• In Ukraine they go to the graves and decorate monuments with green branches.
• In Ukraine, local customs are observed, all related to greenery, flowers, herbs and, of course, food. Many of the customs come from pagan times but do not contradict Christian doctrines.
A multitude of these customs, many of them involving youth, can be researched and some can be chosen to practice here.
• In Ukraine, after the Liturgy, people either visit one another or gather to share social dinners.
How can you build a bridge of these traditions to the next generation…. in your family? in your church?
– Have an icon of Pentecost in the icon corner to honour the feast.
– Prepare for the feast a week ahead of time at the parish level to make people aware of the upcoming feast day and its importance – information in the bulletin, Priests talks about it the Sunday or two before.
– Have family dinner to make it a special evening and invite the priest.
Discuss ways that you can enhance the traditions, that is, make them more meaningful …in your family ….in your church.
– Be sure that everyone understands the correlation between greenery and Pentecost.
– Have crafts for children revolving around Pentecost. If there is no children’s group, maybe the ladies could provide a green card for the children to decorate. They can be displayed and then taken home. Or have the children make it at home.
– Involve all ages or even all parishioners in decorating the church with greenery.
– Perhaps even have everyone process into the church with a green branch and place it in a vase on the tetrapod, or they can decorate the pew they are sitting in.
– Decorate homes with greenery.
– Talk about how the holiday was celebrated in Ukraine.
Now choose at least one idea to implement in your own family and/or your church to build bridges of tradition for all generations and into the future.
This document was adapted from responses gathered in breakout sessions at the 38th UCWLC Eparchial Convention Edmonton Branch Cultural Session, Oct. 2017