So it was – “Stagnant Easter”



So she was -

With the collapse of the USSR, “its” vacation collapsed. But the real and imperishable remains – Easter, the resurrection of the Lord, always after Calvary

Many still remember the “golden age” of Brezhnev’s stagnation, with his famous sausage from 2 to 20, the kisses of “dear Leonid Ilyich” with the leaders of the Warsaw Pact countries, a bloody “struggle for peace ”in the world, CPSU congresses which tortured the whole country on political information and, of course, grandiose public holidays with compulsory and crowded demonstrations.

However, unlike false authority, there was another side to life Homo soveticus, including other holidays. Easter and Christmas – we just wrote about it – have always stayed with people, even in the darkest periods of the Stalin era, but under Brezhnev, they occupied a special place in the calendar of the “Soviet people” . Where our material remembers.

“Those who have rejected the Word of God will also be deprived of the human word”

With each decade of existence of the USSR, slogans have become increasingly absurd, and the words in the mouths of party leaders have become official. The word, which in the Christian tradition was God, during the totalitarian era of the Soviet Union lost even its most banal and ordinary human clarity. The curse cast in one of the stories of K.S. Lewis: “Those who have rejected the Word of God will also be deprived of human speech.”

How was the “Brezhnev era” for the Church and for believers? Perhaps he could be called “deaf”. If the Stalin era was terrible and dark for the Church and for believers, then under “developed socialism” it was deaf. Eugene Sverstyuk, a well-known Ukrainian dissident, said about these years “Brezhnev”: “Easter was commonplace, faith collapsed and was delayed by a network of moral relativism … The masses distorted their faces . ” Sverstyuk himself was tried for Holy Week in 1972, and the verdict was announced on Easter Friday.

So she was -

Evgeny Sverstyuk

The deformation, the bifurcation was total. The communists continued to call religion “opium” and to fight for “the spirit and the heart of the builder of communism”, but rather out of inertia. The Kiev-Pechersk Lavra was closed for worship, as were most churches, if not physically demolished, then finally closed under Khrushchev. The monks who returned from prison were interrupted by various works, in particular, they cleaned the public toilets. The nuns of the Florovsky Ascension Monastery were forced to register in villages near Kiev, to give bribes to passportists and with considerable obstacles to get to their monastery. Believers became attached to the tour groups and thus, under the guise of day trippers, they fell into the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Caves, where they were attached to the relics of the saints. His Beatitude Vladimir (Sabodan) also mentioned it.

Cross “for the Communist” and “Spring Cupcake”

The KGB continued to monitor each step, but “the hearing level has dropped,” added the Treasury alone. The official church has become a branch of the KGB. The Communists secretly baptize their children and buy the first golden crosses.

So she was -

And in villages all over Ukraine, Easter cakes were baked in the oven, Easter eggs were painted, elderly people independently, without a church calendar, calculated the date of Easter. And it was not only in western Ukraine, with its strong religious traditions (we know that after joining the USSR and banning the Church, people went to the forest and celebrated Easter there ”), but also , for example, in the same region of Odessa, which in the late 20s – early 30s was among the leaders of the anti-religious campaign. Despite the fact that the nearest active church is hundreds of kilometers away, the people themselves blessed Easter and greeted each other: “Christ is risen!”

So she was -

Remember the joke how, at Easter, someone in the corridor of the Central Committee addressed Brezhnev – “Christ is risen!”, And he replies – “Thank you! They’ve already reported to me … ”But what was“ ignorance and illusion ”for party officials was a fatherly tradition for the people and a real one – not a forced vacation. The vacation they were waiting for, for which they were preparing. Celebration of Christmas and Easter in the cities. Easter was not on sale at the grocery store, but shortly before Easter, the “Spring Cupcake” appeared – and everyone knew what it meant – it replaced Easter for many city dwellers, although not spent .

Soviet television was also preparing for Easter. Some melodramatic Indian films “in tears” could be broadcast on the television network to distract women or – upscale comedy – to put everyone on television.

So she was -

TV program for Easter 1977, 1978 and 1979

Music lovers knew that it was Easter evening that “Melodies and rhythms of foreign pop” would be broadcast. Not only the “authorized” Boney M., ABBA arrived, but also groups and artists whose music in the USSR was generally called “base” and was not allowed to listen.

Soviet Easter: to whom prayer and to whom “their” music

The celebration of Christmas and Easter at the end of the Soviet era can be found in the memories and letters of Ukrainian dissidents in the sixties. Ukrainian poet Irina Zhilenko wrote in her diary in the spring of 1986 in the year of Chernobyl: “Christ is risen! Such a cold Easter. In America – a prayer service for Ukraine. She listened and sobbed. What is in store for us? .. The whole world is screaming and worried. And we have “calm and calm, the grace of God!” The silence. No warning, advice, message. Why bother people? Let them die slowly, without worries. There is a lot of fun on TV. May God be with them! It’s Easter now, and the soul wants peace. At least for a day … “

So she was -

There were activists who, along with KGB officers, were supposed to guard near the temples on Easter Eve and catch “superstitious” compatriots. Of course, it was not the same activists of the “Union of militant atheists” of the 1930s who could climb on the steeple and from there pour urine on the procession with the drunken laughter of the same atheists – they were activists of a different kind, those who dreamed of a Raykom-Obkom career, slightly spoiled by the sleepy satiety of Brezhnev’s stagnation. In atheist magazines, like Science and religion, you could read a perfectly sensible article on the same religion …

In the 1980s, Easter night in Kiev, near Vladimir Cathedral, like 40, 80 and 100 years ago, many people flew away. Someone came because he could not help coming, because the faith was transmitted from generation to generation, some out of curiosity, protests, some especially young people to go out, tickle their nerves, because everyone knew there would be raids and movement “… Young boys without beards from intelligent families in Kiev were also there, delighted, watching people scatter in the evening streets from the cathedral of Vladimir on a passionate Wednesday, carrying burning candles in bags wrapped in a clean white sheet.

Young people, like the heroes of classical literature, as always, sought the meaning of life and were fed up with parental conformity. Some of them, almost from the first day of the opening of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra in 1988, went to the monks …

Then, at the end of the 80s, it turned out that in the life of the Soviet man, the “builder of communism”, there was a place for Easter and for Christmas …

So she was -

Easter 1979 in Luninets, Brest region (Belarus)

They – this vacation – were hidden very far, that is to say very deeply, as in the bottom of the chest of an old grandmother – somewhere behind the communist trash: Lenin’s birthday, May 1, March 8 , October Revolution … Consequently, it turned out that with the collapse The USSR, with all its “obligations”, all the Bolshevik vacations collapsed. But the true and the incorruptible remains, like the eternal Easter, the resurrection of the Lord, always after Calvary.

Svetlana Shevtsova, Kiev

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