However Easter here in Ukraine is a far different story.
It began with a church service at the cathedral in town at 3:30AM to 5:30AM - yes, 3:30AM. The service actually began at 8PM the night before and continued through the night. Let's just say I was very happy to find out we were only going for a few hours. I attended a church service a few days before with my host mother which only lasted an hour - sadly I realized standing silently while understanding nothing that is being said for an hour feels like a lifetime. Seriously though, there is really only so times you can stare at the murals (which were actually pretty neat) or play with the candle.
However Easter service was very different. Like I said, a 3:30AM, my host family, some neighbors (and an old PCV who lived in Kozelets for PST), and myself made our way to the cathedral. We arrived to a very large crowd of people encircling the church - all lit up from the massive amount of candles that children and adults were carrying. Because Kozelets is the only town around with a cathedral, people from all over the area come for the service - there must have been a hew hundred people present. We proceeded to find an open spot around the church to set up camp. Each family in attendance also brought an Easter basket filled with pastries, eggs, and meats they plan on eating during the day to get blessed by the priest. 3:30AM to 5AM was mostly just light chit-chat. I found other volunteers in my cluster to say hi and chatted with other old Kozelets PCV's who also came to the service. At 5AM, chimes began to ring from the bell tower and people started to settle down. A small group of chorus singers being lead by the priest made their way around the circle of people three times. On the third time around, the priest had a bucket of what I presumed to be holy water which I also presumed would be used to bless the food. I was right in the sense that he was going to bless the food, however I was unaware that the priest was also going to bless the people as well - meaning I got a face full of holy water. I responded with, "Я не резумію" (I don't understand), and my host mother just laughed. One of the host mothers told their volunteer that she way very happy she didn't start to burn from the holy water because she wasn't catholic. The water works marked the end of the service and we made our way home to what I hoped for was some sleep - I was wrong.
We got home and immediately got in the car and drove to grandpa's house where we had breakfast. We sat down to eat probably around 6:15AM. A variety of meats, breads, and salads were the main course - all equally delicious - oh and of course vodka. Unfortunately I one was still feeling sick and was still half asleep so I didn't partake in any alcohol. We was stoked to find out Ukrainians played the same egg cracking game which my family back in America plays as well! After breakfast, we head back home for some long overdue sleep.
My afternoon ended up being just as fun as the morning. Zhenya & Sasha invited me to go with them and their friends to a BBQ in the forest near town. Again, more bomb food was consumed and we played soccer and volleyball. I explained to Zhenya earlier the concept of continuous shot photography and his friends had a field day with it. Here are some of the results.