“Victoria puts bread to sleep on pillows!” said a college classmate after visiting me during my Easter preparations. You see, in order for paska, the Ukrainian brioche-like bread made for the holiday, to retain its lacy, lighter-than-air texture and not collapse under its own weight, it has to cool down on something soft. So my paska had its own pillow, and once a year it was brought out to serve as a ceremonial cushion. All of this might strike others as quaint, but Easter is the most beloved holiday in my family, and everyone takes preparations seriously.
This year we follow the familiar pattern, but it’s an even more special holiday because I’m spending it with my family in Ukraine. I’ve already stuffed myself with matzoh balls at my cousin’s Pesach table in Kyiv, and now I’m anticipating an Easter feast with my grandmother. This morning we already boiled the onion peels to create a natural maroon-red dye for eggs. The fresh cheese has been drained and whipped with almonds for an Easter cheesecake. Our home is once again filled with the wine-like aroma of rising dough, vanilla sugar, rum soaked raisins, and violets.
I wish everyone Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and a wonderful spring. May it usher in more joy, love and happiness.
Photography by Bois de Jasmin