March and April

Spring brings Visitors, my birthday, and Easter

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Karen Speake (left) and my mom came to visit, prepared with head scarves to explore the famous Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery (behind).

Another favorite part of Kyiv for them was, unsurprisingly, the marketplace. St. Alexi descent, containing a panoramic array of handmade crafts, artists' creations, and typical Ukrainian embroidery and carving, all at Ukrainian prices was like a dream come true.
For their last night in Kyiv, Mom and Karen cooked up a feast for my friends and me as a "fake birthday party," it being a week to early. This is the cooking squad here. Karen stirs the numerous pots of spaghetti and noodles, getting used to the peculiarities of Ukrainian kitchens and stoves.
Most of the attendees of my "fake birthday" party gathered in the rented apartment in which Mom and Karen stayed. All of them attend Nivky Church. A shot of the eating festivities - Sergey (in white) eating and Victor (in maroon) laughing, while Anya and Lena (couch on left) chat away.
No, this isn't a picture from last semester that I am trying to sneak by. Our ensemble performed its third concert to celebrate Easter at Nivky Church. We followed a dramatic Easter presentation adapted from a famous Ukrainian playwright. Another view of our sining group, named "A Joyful Noise." We attempted to dress in the colors of the rainbow (ROY G. BIV), with Vanya being the culmination of all combined light in his white shirt - the color scheme was not my idea.
The modern technique Oleg employed so well to get the gas stove working in Mom and Karen's rented apartment. Do not try this at home.
The first of the Easter pictures - if you want to see them together with my article on experiencing Orthodox Easter traditions click here - This shows the faithful with their baskets full of special Paskha bread and "pysanky" (painted eggs), waiting to be blessed by the priest.
The priest, who Chris noted was "aiming for the face," blesses a group of Orthodox believers with their baskets. The ritual had an air of humor and reverence at the same time, as people were soaked in the holy water. (I caught a good splashing standing behind some baskets, and felt holy for the rest of the weekend) The back of St. Micheal's Church, our next stop on the Easter tour after the Volodomirsky basket blessing.
Here are two more night shots of St. Michael's... Here, around 10 pm, we observed more basket blessing and countless Orthodox standing in the church, preparing for the all night celebration and ritual.
The final stop on the tour was at the Lavra monastery. This photo looks down from the balcony at the mass of believers crowding into the church. Look carefully at the floor and you can see the ubiquitous baskets. Near midnight, the group of white-robed monks came out and began chanting and singing readings, echoed by a men's choir and the congregation at different times, and always punctuated with continual self-crossings.
At midnight, the monks led thousands of people in a processional around the cathedral. The numerous bells of the monastery's huge tower thundered booming tones and sprinkled racing melodies over the monastery. In the gaps between bells, the masculinely harmonious songs and chants of the monks arose. The Orthodox service continues the entire night, believers standing (with baskets of course) throughout the entire night. These trips around the church occur at night, three times, and a service commences at sunrise honoring the risen Christ. After this service, the Orthodox are allowed to break their fast and eat the goodies in the basket.
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