Saturday evening I went with my counterpart, Halya, to the Greek Catholic church in town to get our Easter baskets (кошики) blessed. It was quite a sight: people lined up with their baskets all around the churchyard and the priest/choir/icon procession came around twice, first with incense and then with holy water, to bless us and the baskets.
On Sunday I had a nice Easter brunch with my counterpart and her family around 10am. We ate a full meal, including large pieces of my landlady’s (Halya’s aunt) homemade cakes. It was shorter than a usual Ukrainian party; I was back home by 12:30pm and decided to go for a walk — it was 65*F, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, I needed to digest, and I secretly hoped I’d see people I knew who would invite me in, Ukrainian-style, to celebrate with them.
So I grabbed my camera — I’ve been wanting to take some pictures around town — and headed out. I ended up down near the river and started walking back up a long hill that I often run down. Lo and behold, I spotted two teachers from my school in a yard across the road: Natalia Volodymyrivna (who I will call NV), whose 2nd form class I teach, and her husband Anatoliy Oleksiyovich (I think that’s his patronymic…who I will call AO), one of the phys ed. teachers. They called to me and I went over to say hi. Next thing I knew, I was being ushered into the house — NV’s mother’s — and sat down at the table and forced to eat and drink champagne, even though I was pretty full already. (But I was totally asking for it in my secret wish.) I managed a holubtsi (cabbage roll — impossible for me to resist), some home-grown sausage, and (more) homemade cake.
After a while it was time to go to AO’s mother’s house — families make the rounds on Easter. His mom just so happens to be the director of my school, Olena Mykolayivna (OM from here on). They invited me to tag along, and I accepted the invitation b/c I thought it’d be a nice gesture to pleasantly surprise OM. She was surprised and seemed glad to see me. I managed to stuff down a little more food and spent a nice couple of hours with them; we ended up outside in the yard where NV and AO’s sons, Denys (age 4) and Sahsa (one of my 8th-formers) played with their cousin while we basked in the son and chatted. A really nice set of surprises on probably the most beautiful day of the year so far.