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Ukrainian Easter Bread with Lubow

 Before you even taste the slightly sweet, faintly citrus flavor of a loaf of paska, you're captivated with the visual appeal of this classic Ukrainian Easter bread. During baking, paska, often capped with elaborate twists and curls, rises high out of its pan in a deep golden puff. It's almost hard to imagine cutting into these beautifully intricate loaves, which have been staples of the Ukrainian Easter celebration for centuries.

Of course, paska is not just bread: The sculpted-dough designs adorning the top carry symbolic meanings. Many patterns originated during the spread of Christianity in A.D. 988; others can be traced back to native Ukrainian pagan religions. Ukrainian peasants felt strong connections to the land and the grains that grew there, and rituals, charms, songs, gestures, and movements grew around the act of baking paska. In fact, baking it was one of the most serious undertakings of the year. According to legend, you could predict the future from the outcome of the bread -- a full, nicely shaped loaf indicated a good year to come. Paska can be enjoyed on its own or put to use in a uniquely flavorful sandwich. Try it plain or toasted with butter, or spread it thickly with homemade mayonnaise, and layer it with liverwurst.

Get the Ukrainian Easter Bread Recipe

 

Symbols Used on Traditional Paska

Triangle: the Trinity

Fish: Christ, the fisherman

Sun: life, growth, and good fortune

Flowers: love, charity, and goodwill

Wheat: good health and wishes for a good harvest

Evergreens: health and eternal youth

Cross: the death and the resurrection of Christ

Eight-pointed star: the sun god

Birds: fertility and wish-fulfillment

Dots: stars in the heavens

Deer, horses, and rams: prosperity

Waves and ribbons circling an egg: eternity

Pussy willows: Palm Sunday

Pine branches and trees: youth and health

Acorns: fertility

 

Lubow K. Wolynetz

The Ukrainian Museum

203 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10003

212-228-0110

 

Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford

161 Glenbrook Road

Stamford, CT 06902

203-327-7899

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