: ‘It’s Not Going to Be the Same.’ Ukrainians Wrestle With Trauma This Orthodox Easter #WorldNEWS Vita Olevych, a Ukrainian American in Chicago, is in no mood to celebrate Easter on Sunday. “We
‘It’s Not Going to Be the Same.’ Ukrainians Wrestle With Trauma This Orthodox Easter #WorldNEWS
Vita Olevych, a Ukrainian American in Chicago, is in no mood to celebrate Easter on Sunday. “We don’t feel like we’re in the right headspace to celebrate anything, Olevych says. It’s been such a traumatizing and difficult couple of weeks.
Normally, Olevych, 25, and her husband look forward to attending church for Easter service and preparing for the festival by cleaning their home and making Easter baskets. But this year their minds are focused fully on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two family members who have sought refuge in their home, and their remaining family members in Chernivtsi. Our days are consumed by checking the news and calling our family to make sure they’re OK,” Olevych says.
Easter is one of the most important holidays for Ukrainians around the world, many of whom are Orthodox Christians and typically celebrate Easter a week after Catholics and Protestants do. There are several dozen Ukrainian parishes for the religious branch across the U. S. Like other Christians, Orthodox Christians have 40 days of Lent, followed by Holy Week, which leads up to Easter—but members of the Ukrainian Orthodox church also take part in traditions unique to their culture. Most Ukrainian churches will use pussy willows instead of palms on Palm Sunday because it’s a reminder of what grows in Ukraine. And Ukrainians display uniquely designed Easter eggs known as pysanky.
This year, however, Easter is bringing up complicated feelings for many Ukrainians in the U. S. and in Ukraine. While some are looking to religion and the upcoming holiday for meaning, healing, and community, many say they are finding it difficult to feel the joy typically associated with Easter given the trauma caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Olevych is exhausted. She spent the last month traveling and working to bring her cousin’s 26-year-old wife, Anastasiia Antoniak, and 5-year-old son, Bohdan, from Ukraine to her home in Chicago to escape the war. On March 4, Olevych flew to Romania, where her cousin had brought Antoniak and Bohdan, and where she twice failed to procure U. S. tourist visas for them. By March 30, she was accompanying them on a flight to Mexico, where they asked for humanitarian parole while driving across the U. S. -Mexico border. Antoniak’s husband, aunt, uncle, parents, and siblings still remain in Ukraine.
For some Ukrainian Americans, religion has provided a greater source of comfort. There’s a special spiritual significance for Easter this year, says Olena Lymar, who lives in Chicago and is on the parish board of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.
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