WHEELING - Traditional foods representing life, the bitterness of the crucifixion, and Jesus' resurrection will be enjoyed today by members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Members gathered Saturday to have the food, such as paska bread, meats, cheese, butter, eggs and more blessed in preparation for Easter by the Rev. Michael Krupka, pastor of the church at 4136 Jacob St., Wheeling.
Church member John Mysliwiec of Moundsville said he is keeping the tradition alive, handed down from his parents and grandparents.
The Rev. Michael Krupka gives candy to parishioners after blessing their Easter food baskets Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual help Ukrainian Catholic Church. From left are Mary Ann Grimm and her mother Esther; Jean Fisher and her daughter, Patty; and Laura, Tom and Joan Miller.
"The blessing of the food represents Jesus," he said.
The hardboiled eggs represent life and typically are sliced and shared among family members. Horseradish also is blessed and represents the bitterness of the crucifixion. A candle is used during the ceremony and represents Jesus being the light. The meat represents Jesus being the lamb of God.
In addition to her eggs to eat, member Mary Ann Grimm of Wheeling annually displays her hand decorated eggs featuring intricate and colorful patterns. One egg, she said, can take several hours to finish because of the layering process that involves wax. She has kept some of her eggs for decades.
"The dyes are poisonous - we don't eat those eggs," said Grimm, who attended the blessing with her mother, Esther.
"It's just fun. I picked it up and I enjoy doing it," she said of the craft.
After blessing the food and sprinkling the baskets with holy water, Krupka thanked the group for helping keep the tradition alive.
"We get distracted by many, many things. This shows on the outside what we're feeling in our hearts," he said.
In addition to Krupka, the Grimms and Mysliwiec, other participants included Jean and Patty Fisher; Laura, Tom and Joan Miller; John Paluc; Vera Kohut; Ann Kanick; and Rosella George.
Krupka noted the church's 100th anniversary celebration is set for Oct. 13.