Snapped this photograph of some thirsty horses during a trip to Svyatogorsk in July.
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The bells chimed unceasingly through the night, making it nearly impossible to sleep. Headlights from cars as far as the eyes could see crept at a snail’s pace closer to the monastery. People filled the unkempt lawns along the river, staking their spots for the holiday weekend. Hatchbacks and trunks opened, producing bottles of vodka and cognac. Souvenir booths remained opened for 48 straight hours. No one slept.
Orthodox mass began at midnight, with priests chanting “Христос воскрес!” (Christ is Risen!) and the people responding “Воистину воскрес!” (Truly He is Risen!). At 4 a.m. the priests and monks began making their rounds of the monastery, blessing baskets full of paska (Easter bread), elaborately painted eggs, fruit, bottles of cognac and more. Holy water was flung toward the people and baskets as the group passed, signs of the cross were made, people rejoiced. This went on for an hour or more. By the time everyone had been blessed the sun was coming up over the hill. The bells never ceased.
And this is how Easter usually is in Ukraine.
Despite the lack of sleep, the weekend was wonderful, the weather beautiful. There were six of us Peace Corps volunteers who camped Saturday, staying through till Sunday evening, and two Ukrainians who met us Sunday morning. We picnicked on a large tarp at the base of the monastery near the river. We cooked shashlik (Ukrainian style of barbecue), ate paska, veggies, fruits and chocolate, drank vodka and beer. We celebrated properly.
Here are some photos from the Easter weekend camping trip in Svyatogorsk.