Cultural Funerals: Ukrainian Orthodox Funeral Services

Ukrainian Orthodoxy Traditions

As a sect of the Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians follow the general rules of the Orthodox Church that prohibit cremation and enforces burial of the dead. Ukrainians have developed their own traditions over generations and these traditions are still practised very faithfully till this very day in Ukraine. Ukrainians put an emphasis on specific numbers when it comes to all occasions.

Ukrainian Funeral Traditions

When it comes to death, Ukrainians are supposed to always bring an even number of flowers and place them next to the coffin. At any other occasions that require flowers, Ukrainians are expected to bring an odd number of flowers. On the days of Ukrainian funerals, a bowl of drinking water and a towel are left for the dead as a spiritual offering. This is done because it is believed that the soul of the deceased drinks the water and uses the towel in order to wash away the tears along the way. Moreover, Ukrainians abstain from drinking water in the presence of the body of the deceased. Another Ukrainian traditions is to use a sled to move the body of the deceased from the funeral service to the burial site. This traditions is not done much anymore outside of Ukraine. This tradition is mainly still practised in the mountainous Carpathian regions of Ukraine. This is arguably one of the most ancient traditions that are practised by traditions, since using the sled implies that this was done before the invention of the wheel.

Memorializing the Dead

Ukrainians have different traditional memorial services that they conduct on specific days after death has occurred. They have a feasting ritual in which members of the community join to feast on the third, ninth and fortieth days after a death has occurred. These feasts are also repeated on the six month and one year anniversaries of the death of a person. Ukrainians also commemorate the lives of their ancestors on the days following Easter. It is believe that this puts the spirits of their ancestors at ease so they can continue to rest in peace. This Ukrainian remembrance festivity is referred to as “Provody”.