The Holy Trinity (aka the Green Holidays) is one of the biggest religious holidays celebrated throughout the Christian world. In Ukraine this holiday has been revered since the ancient times and people carefully nurtured the rich traditions associated with its celebration.
The term "Trinity" reflects the triune nature of God. According to general Orthodox beliefs God has three faces (three images, three appearances): God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These three impersonations are equally important, they are not parts of God, each of them are the single, omnipotent God. The Trinity of God can be compared with the image of the Sun: there’s the sun, the light that comes from the Sun, and the heat that comes from the Sun.
Origin of the name
The Trinity holiday is called has differently: Pentecost, Descent of the Holy Spirit etc. The holiday is often associated with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles which occurred on the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This event also coincides with the prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. The first mentioning of the Trinity holiday dates back to the third century. BC. As Trinity is traditionally celebrated on the 50th day after Easter, this year it falls on the 31st of May, preceded by the so-called ‘green week’.
The week before Trinity is called "green" because people have preserved the ancient tradition of decorating their houses with different plants, flowers, herbs, branches, weaving flower wreaths etc. Before doing so, people would go to the church to have the greenery blessed. This was done to protect homes from evil forces, which according to our ancestors’ beliefs, could do damage during these days.
Flowers were used not only to decorate homes, but they were also brought to churches, symbolizing the awakening of nature and resurrection of the human soul. Flowers were used in fortunetelling. Girls would make flower wreaths and put them on the water: the ones that drowned were a bad omen; the ones that floated meant that everything was going to be fine; if a wreath stopped in one place, the girl who made it was soon to be wed. All these rituals were accompanied by songs and dances.
Another couple interesting beliefs that once existed among the people forbid one from walking in the forest or field alone, bathing in rivers or lakes, on the eve of the Trinity Holiday, because these were believed to be the habitat of mermaids who could ‘tickle one to death’. Trinity was actually also known as ‘Mermaids’ Easter’. People believed that working on this day was a bad sign as it could anger the mermaids and they’d do some harm. To appease the mermaids, girls baked bread using holy water. Girls also sometimes made wreaths for mermaids and left them in the woods. They believed that in return the mythical creatures would send them a wealthy husband.
Usually traditional Pentecost food included dishes prepared with egg, milk, poultry, fish and of course fresh greens. Pastries included pancakes, rolls, pies etc. The festive table was covered with green table cloth, or people would eat outdoors, in the forest, fields or by the river. The young engaged in folk games, fortunetelling, roundelays etc.
Of course, many of the ancient traditions of our ancestors did not survive till today, but people in Ukraine still decorate their doorways with leaves and flowers decorate, weave wreaths etc. We are a generation that will carry these traditions through centuries and pass them on to future generations. Happy ‘Green Holidays’, everyone!
Source – Exploring Ukraine