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Paska — Easter Ritual Bread

The most honored Easter bread was the paska and the preparation and baking of paska was considered one of the most important tasks of the year.

People believed that the fu­ture could be predicted, depending on how this holiday bread turned out. Every homemaker wanted her paska to be the best and the biggest, therefore while baking it she performed various magical gestures and used incantations.

The dough for the paska was kneaded in a trough which rested on a pillow so that the bread would be light.

During the preparation the homemaker had to maintain pure thoughts. While the paska was in the oven no one was allowed to sit or make a loud noise for fear it would collapse in the oven.

In some regions of Ukraine the man of the house stood guard in his front door lest someone entered and cast an evil spell while the paska was baking.

A successfully baked pas­ka brought great joy to the family.

Wrapped in a rushnyk (ritual cloth), or placed in a basket, the paska was carried to church by the master of the house to be blessed in a ceremony following the Resurrection Mass on Easter morning.

Other foods such as cheese, butter, salt, pork lat, horse radish, eggs, pysanky (Ukrainian Easter egg), ham, sausages, as well as various seeds were also brought to church for the blessing.

Im­mediately after the ceremony the family would hurry home to share the blessed paska and thus begin Easter breakfast.

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