“Easter was a big holiday for all of us in Ukraine. We painted eggs, we made buns & # 8230; “This year many of my compatriots are on the path to the real Golgotha and I have only one wish: to end the war soon.” Μ & # 8217; These words, Oksana K., from the city of Chernigov in Ukraine, describes the emotion that floods her, on Easter Eve, which she will celebrate as a refugee in Thessaloniki, far from her homeland.
People with a deep Christian faith, Ukrainians celebrate Easter (and) as the spring of life and nature. This year, they were to experience their own Golgotha, through the turmoil of war, and await, as they say, their own resurrection. “We will reach the resurrection as a people. “This is what our Christian faith teaches us”, Oxana emphasizes.
She has been in Thessaloniki since March 18, together with her son, and found solace in volunteering to heal the wounds of her soul from the war. “Volunteering for me is a recovery from the fear of war, it is my personal resurrection,” she said, sitting in a corner of TIF Kiosk 10, where humanitarian aid is being gathered for Ukraine.
Greece as a safe haven, since her eldest daughter is studying here and she says she is lucky to spend Easter with her children, while some of her relatives, friends and acquaintances, as well as other Ukrainians, are forced to spend these holy days in trenches or in dilapidated houses.
“My five-year-old son is scared and even asks me if the bombs can reach Thessaloniki,” said Oksana, who prays daily for her parents, who are staying in Ukraine.
The Greeks of Ukraine are seeking their own Resurrection
“For me, the Resurrection is the guarantee of the continuous presence of the Hellenism of Ukraine in Mariupol, but also the fate of the uprooted Greek refugees”, stressed, speaking to APE-MPE, the president of the Federation of Greek Associations of Ukraine Alexandra Protsenko & # 82; Pitsatzi, who on Holy Tuesday organized the first meeting of Greeks who came from Ukraine to Thessaloniki as refugees at booth 10 of the TIF.
She crossed the Greek border on March 25, after about a month living in the basement of a house with 30 other people and the absolute fear of constant bombing, as he describes.
The dean of the School of Modern Greek Language of the University of Humanities of Mariupol, Ioulia Zarikova, also took part in the meeting on Holy Tuesday & # 8211; Champagne. “The resurrection for me came earlier, when I managed to leave Ukraine safely, having my baby in my womb, which I gave birth to in Thessaloniki”, he says with emotion to APE-MPE.
For her part, Nadia Tsapni, president of the Center for Greek Culture in Mariupol “Meotida”, which also belongs to those people who have dedicated their lives to the rebirth of Hellenism in Ukraine, remembers with nostalgia the Easter of previous years and us confesses that this year he will try to & # 8217; revive some of the customs. “This year, due to the tragic events in our country, we will celebrate Easter in our beloved Greece. We will revive the & # 8220; Psathiri & # 8221 ;, the custom associated with the traditional Easter lilac pasta of the Greeks in the shape of a cross. “Both the recipe and the custom were forgotten, and we brought it back to our cultural center years ago”, he explains.
“I grew up in Soviet Ukraine, when tradition and faith in God were forbidden and we did not have a church in our village. We secretly celebrated Easter at home, trying to follow the Greek tradition, as a rule. We baked Easter buns on Holy Wednesday and on Holy Thursday we dyed the eggs. Our grandmother strictly kept the fast and did not let us touch the buns and the eggs until the Sunday of the Resurrection. “On this day, we were all sitting at the table and the grandmother was reciting the prayer and when it was over, we could start cracking the eggs”, says Ms. Tsapni.
“We spend Easter in Greece for the first time “
” For the first time, my parents and I will celebrate Easter in Greece, but our tears are drowning out our joy for Ukraine “, the former president of his country tells APE-MPE Hellenic Association of Kharkov (2015-2021) Katerina Shevchenko, who was present at the meeting on Holy Tuesday.
It is the fourth refugee in 100 years, from 1922 until today, that is, experienced by Katerina Shevchenko's family. “The family of my grandfather Athanasios Athanasiadis from Pontos were appeals that went to Batumi. From there refugees came to Greece, where they lived and fought in B & # 8217; World War. But after the tragic civil war, they fled as political refugees to Tashkent, USSR. “Today, we are refugees again.””For me, this year's Resurrection I wish to be able to stay in Greece forever, while my mother wants to go to my grandfather's Greek village (Katachas Pierias), to find our ancestors' house”, says Katerina Sevchenko, who does not may be erased from her memory on February 24, when she woke up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready for work and saw the message from a friend: “the war has started” & # 8230;
“Many friends and acquaintances have left, others for the Dnieper, others for western Ukraine, others abroad, while some are determined to stay in Kharkov no matter what. “My father could not bear to see the catastrophe and so we took the road of refuge to our historical and spiritual homeland”, she says, narrating her trip to Greece.
Easter in Odessa (before from the war)
“And I would like to celebrate this Easter at my home, in Odessa, but we will celebrate it in Athens, in our historical homeland, a country that hosts refugees from Ukraine,” Elizaveta Polychronidis, president of Elliniki, told APE-MPE. community of Odessa, located in Greece for a month.
“My sister Aglai (singer of the Odessa Opera House) and I always tried to combine the customs of the Greeks of Pontus with the traditions of the Ukrainians”, he notes and explains: “We, the Pontians, sow wheat on a plate, covered with a cloth or cloth . Soon, the plate is covered with a beautiful, thick emerald grass. Colored eggs are the main decoration of the Easter table. The Greeks paint only red eggs, with onion peels. Ukrainians like to make so-called krashenka, eggs painted in different colors and designs. In the Easter bun, according to the tradition from Byzantium, we had no difference between Greek Pontians and Ukrainians. It's just that the dough of the Greeks is always heavier, since we put a lot of butter, while the Ukrainians prefer a more airy version, with a lot of raisins. The “hat” on the bun (s.s. the bun of the Ukrainians looks like an Italian panettone) is decorated. Ukrainians paint with bright colors, create figures. We, the Greeks, just smear the buns with egg to make them shiny. On Easter night, we take the Easter cakes and eggs to the church or to the nearest monastery to be blessed “.
* The photos were provided to APE-MPE by Katerina Chevchenko and Nadia Tsapni