Holy Thursday in Lemkovyna: a memory

Bringing Holy Thursday candles home

Bringing Holy Thursday candles home

I remember that day, Great Thursday. In the evening everyone went to church for the Passion of Christ. The church was full of people, some reciting psalms or reading from big books. The choir sang, beautifully, “The Glorious Disciples” and “The Wise Thief”. The priest read from the Gospel twelve times, and for each reading put on a different vestment. At each reading of the Gospel the choir sang “Glory to Thy Passion, O Lord”. Church wardens handed out candles to everybody, including us children, except we got only stubs.

After each Gospel reading we had to applaud, and we little ones did, too, more than was necessary: we even stomped our feet so that the floor of the church trembled.

After the service was over everybody went home with lighted candles. From afar, in the dark this looked nice and mysterious, like a rivulet of fire flowing through the village. Everyone took care to keep his candle burning all the way home, so that he could etch a cross on the door of his house with it. This was supposed to protect the house from all evil.

(Recollections of Teodor Kuziak from his childhood in a Lemko village, translated by Dimitri Gallik in our newsletter Karpatska Rus’, April 12, 2002.)

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