The Paska Tradition

I don’t know why but the Z-paska really got to me. Even in the USSR we kept our Easter traditions. On Palm Sunday we’d bring in bunches of verba plants. There are no palms in Eastern Europe, of course, so for us Palm Sunday is verba Sunday. Here is what it looks like:

I can’t explain how big it was that people would even know when it was Easter and why everybody had these bunches of verba a week before. This is cultural memory trying to survive against the greatest odds. Decades of stubborn, massive resistance against a totalitarian regime.

We’d make our paskas. It’s a whole ritual. The family recipes passed down through generations, the smell of rising dough, the loud debates over whether the dough would rise correctly. Even people who taught “scientific atheism” in college made paskas. And didn’t put any Soviet symbolism on them. The only time in a year most Soviet people got near a church was to bring in the paskas to be blessed.

One thing that even the Soviets didn’t manage to shit on. One little part of our cultural legacy we could preserve. You got to be the lowest grade of cow excrement to mess with it to promote your stupid war.

Everybody says “it’s propaganda.” But in the USSR we had real propaganda. No internet, no alternative sources of information. And still we managed to keep the paskas clean of all the ideological crap.


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