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TRADITIONS

The Blessing of Homes

Customarily, homes are blessed on the days following January 6th, but may be blessed anytime. A cross or icon in a prominent place becomes the focus of God's presence in our home. Please complete a Blessing of Homes Request Form and put it in the collection basket with the designated envelope. Forms will be available in January.

Meatfare Sunday

Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which it was still permissible to eat meat before the Great Fast. Meatfare means "farewell to meat." Hence, the name "meatfare" Sunday. This is reflective of the time when the Great Fast was observed in all strictness. After the Divine Liturgy, various selections of meat products are blessed and shared.

Cheesefare Sunday

On Cheesefare Sunday, the day before the beginning of the Great Fast, we share blessed foods of fish, eggs, and cheese following the Divine Liturgy. Cheesefare Sunday - so called because it is the last day to eat cheese and other dairy products before the beginning of Great Lent.

The Blessing of the Pascha Baskets

In the Church, Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus (Easter) is a day without parallel with joyful celebration. The celebration includes the Blessing of the Pascha Baskets which contain foods not eaten during the fasting of the Great Lent... meats, eggs, cheese, butter, rich breads, and more... The "forbidden" foods of Great Lent become the foods of the Easter Banquet. It is customary to break one's Easter Fast with foods blessed at this time.
Each basket is covered with a cloth usually embroidered with the words "Christ is Risen". The contents of the basket vary from family to family in terms of additional meats, wine, pastries, candy and other treats.

Putting Together a Traditionsl Easter Basket

PASCHA - The Easter Bread (pron, paska). A sweet, yeast bread rich in eggs, butter, etc. Symbolic of Christ Himself who is our True Bread. Usually a round loaf baked with a golden crust decorated with a symbol indicative of Christ. Sometimes a cross of dough is placed on top encircled by a plait giving it a crowned effect, or Greek abbreviations for the name of Christ. The letters XB indicate the Slavonic for "Christ is Risen."

CHEESE (Hrudka or Sirets, pronounced - hrood-ka or si-rets) A custard-type cheese shaped into a ball having a rather bland but sweet taste indicative of the moderation that Christians should have in all things. Also, creamed cheese is placed in a small dish and both are decorated with symbols made of cloves or pepper balls.

HAM (Sunka - pronounced shoon-ka) The flesh meat popular with Slavs as the main dish because of its richness and symbolic of the great joy and abundance of Easter. Some may prefer lamb or veal. This is usually well roasted or cooked as well as other meats prepared in advance so that the festivity of the day will not be burdened with preparation and all may enjoy the Feast.

BUTTER (Maslo - pronounced ma-slo) This favorite dairy product is shaped into the figure of a lamb or small cross and decorated as the cheese. This reminds us of the goodness of Christ that we should have toward all things.



EGGS (Pisanki - pronounced - pi-sun-ki) Hard boiled eggs brightly decorated with symbols and markings made with beeswax, indicative of new life and resurrection.

SALT (Sol - pronounced sol') A condiment necessary for flavor reminding the Christian of his duty to others.

BACON (Slanina - pronounced - sla-ni-na) A piece of uncooked bacon cured with spices, symbolic of the overabundance of God's mercy to us.

SAUSAGE (Kolbasi - pronounced kol-bus-i) A spicy, garlicy sausage of pork products, indicative of God's favor and generosity.

HORSERADISH (Chrin - pronounced - khrin) Horseradish mixed with grated red beets. Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection. A bitter - sweet red colored mixture reminds us of the sufferings of Christ.

These articles are placed in a wicker basket and a ribbon or bow is tied to the handle. A decorated candle is placed in the basket and is lit at the time of blessing. A linen cover usually embroidered with a picture of the Risen Christ or symbol with the words "Christ is Risen" is placed over the foods when brought to the church. In some places a large Easter Bread (Pascha) is made and brought separately in a large linen cloth. If the origin of the people was from a wine growing region, a sweet wine may be brought.

The Blessing of Fruit

On August 6th, the Transfiguration of Jesus, which occurs during the harvest season, the Faithful bring fruit to the Church to be blessed. The blessing of fruit on this day is the most beautiful and adequate sign of the final transfiguration of all things in Christ. It signifies the ultimate flowering and fruitfulness of all creation in God's Paradise where all will be transformed by the glory of the Lord.


The Blessing of Flowers

According to our Byzantine Catholic Tradition, flowers are solemnly blessed on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Tradition speaks of the Apostles returning to the tomb of Mary. Finding it empty, her tomb was filled with a heavenly fragrance and flowers were present where her body once lay. Since Mary could only have been taken up by the Lord, flowers are seen as the presence of His saving Power. As a reminder of this event, flowers are brought to Church and blessed.


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