Easter in Lemkivshchyna was in most respects similar to Easter as observed in other parts of Halychyna, since both areas were united for a long time, from the rivers Zbruch to Poprad. Until 1939, Lemkivshchyna was under the administration of the Eparchy of Peremyshl , thus demonstrating the unity of the Lviv Metropolitate. The significant stature that Lemkivshchyna held within the church life of Halychyna is fully demonstrated by the fact that the Metropolit Silvester Sembratovych himself was a Lemko.
It is normal to consider Easter as a solemn, but merry and happy event. It coincides with the appearance of the first warm spring dew, first spring flowers and the wonderful music of three bells, which announce to the world a victory of life over death.
Regretfully, throughout our history most Easter holidays during turbulent years were cold, sorrowful, unhappy, even tragic.
Aside from the invasion by the [Bar] Confederacy, other misfortunes visited our mountains as well, the First World War drafted for the front lines not only farmers, but also sent local priests to the Talerhof concentration camp, in Austria. Church bells were taken away from Lemko tserkvas, and the people with sorrow and tears in their eyes sang: "Khristos voskreseh iz mertvykh..." (Christ is risen from the dead...) and would then share blessed eggs with others. But they never gave up hope and promised themselves to buy new bells after the war, and they did! The bells of Easter became silent again during World War II, again they were melted into sinful and deadly armaments. And when the entire Christian world happily observed the first post-war Easter, Lemkos suffered under terror, the severity of which no one else during the 20th century has experienced. Our wealth was robbed, entire villages were torched, they were shooting at us as if at stray dogs, they tortured us at the concentration camp in Yavozhno and various prisons, and then chased us out like cattle to a distant and strange land. Can one speak about a happy Easter under these circumstances? Lemko, not having his own tserkva, would get his paskha blessed in a Roman-Catholic church, but the paskha thus blessed was hard to swallow. And what kind of Easter is it, when during this most important holiday contempt and ridicule emanate from the street, tractors roar in the fields on Easter "wet" Monday, and then on the third day of the holiday, you yourself, bowing your head, follow the plough. Grandchildren, when they come to visit "dido" and "baba" for Easter from the neighboring town, are speaking to you in Polish, and for them Easter eggs do not bring as much pleasure, as they did at one time for you.
Grandfathers feel sorry for those Easter bells, warm wooden houses, mountains covered with greenery in the spring, and life that is being wasted in a strange land.
Copyright ®1997 Jon W. Madzelan
This Home Page was created on Monday, May 05, 1997
Most recent revision Monday, May 05, 1997