Tag Archives: Bukovyna

Old New Year Celebration – Ukrainian Malanka

14 Jan

Malanka

Photo Credit: my childhood friend Oktavian K.

Happy Old New Year!

The New Year by the Julian calendar is still informally observed, and the tradition of celebrating the coming of the New Year twice is widely enjoyed: January 1 (New New Year) and January 14 (Old New Year).

Across North America, Americans and Canadians of Ukrainian origin celebrate Malanka or Malanckyn Vechir, the New Year’s Eve celebrations, on January 13th. It falls one week after Christmas Eve, January 6th by the same Julian calendar, and is an occasion which, with the exception of the religious note of Christmas, resembles it in several ways. It commemorates the feast day of St. Melania hence the name Malanka.

Like many Ukrainian traditions, this celebration existed long before the adoption of Christianity in 988 where Malanka was a mythical figure, a girl of many talents and of exceptional beauty  Who actually this Malanka girl was, and what she did to earn a public celebration, nobody knows for sure. Some ethnographers believe it symbolizes the beginning of Spring being released from captivity and on her arrival bringing the flowers and greenery to life again.

In Ukraine this tradition varies from city to city.  On this night carolers went from house to house playing pranks or acting out a small play.  In the evening before the Malanka night, young men put on all kinds of costumes, some of them weird and bizarre — Devils, Warriors, Police, Witches, Old Women and Men, Death, Blacksmith, Jews, Gypsies, Turks, Hutsuls and representatives of other nationalities.  All of these people in their disguise move from house to house performing their little plays and improvisations for those who would care to see their performance. They make very much noise, and in addition to music, they play practical jokes on people — but no one ever gets harmed in any way. Well, the celebrants can attempt to kiss a beautiful girl, or do some mischief, but it’s all in jest.

Photo Credit: my childhood friend Oktavian K.

Vashkivtsi, capital of Malanka! Photo Credit: my childhood friend Oktavian K.

Malanka traditions have been preserved best in western Ukraine.  Malanka is also called there Pereberiya and has acquired features of a true folk carnival.  The climax of Malanka celebrations is best to be watched— or participated in— in the city of Chernivtsi, my home town.  Hundreds if not thousands of people wearing masquerade costumes of Devils, Gypsies, Bears, Goats and other creatures pour out into the streets engaging the passers-by and spectators in their boisterous and sometimes wild fun. The participants and spectators let themselves go— but there is never any violence or “violations of public order” to such an extent that it would require the police interference.

Sources:

http://oktavian.jimdo.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malanka

http://www.uast.org/malanka.htm

http://www.ukrcdn.com/2010/01/11/an-introduction-to-ukrainian-new-years-malanka/

http://www.wumag.kiev.ua/index2.php?param=pgs20064/102

2012 Toronto Ukrainian Festival

27 Sep

Вітаємо / Welcome!

For the last three years my daughter and I make a point of attending Toronto Ukrainian Festival held in September on Bloor West, between Runnymede and Jane.  We always look forward to sampling traditional food, listening to live bands and people-watching.

Roasted whole pig.  We are pork eaters!

I love food and am open-minded while trying different foods however when it comes to traditional Ukrainian fare – varenyky, kapusta, borsch (by the way, it’s not “borscht”, there is no “t” in the “borsch”!), holybtsi, I become super-critical.    Let’s start with varenyky, a.k.a. perogi.  Canadians and some Ukrainian Canadians love the potato-cheddar cheese variety.  This variety is unheard of in Ukraine!  It has to be some crazy North American invention as cheddar cheese was not available  in Ukraine.  I lived there until 1993 and can assure you that nobody made those.

We like to visit different vendors and marvel at their displays.

Rushnyky (towels)

These are the traditional Ukrainian embroidered rushnyky (towels).  They are used to decorate religious icons, during wedding ceremonies or just to decorate a Ukrainian home.  They are also used as table runners, panels to make pillows or any other place that needs a little embroidery.

My family is from Bukovyna, a region in the Western Ukraine. This is a partial shot of the hand embroidered Bukovynian blouse.  We believe that this kind of embroidery is protecting against the bad spirits.  The blouse is heavy, up to 20lbs because of all the tiny beads that are sewn on it.  It’s not cheap, $600 CDN and I couldn’t it get it cheaper even in Ukraine.  My aunt make these blouses and they go for $500 US.

Keptar, a fur-trimmed Bukovynian vest

Me in my embroidered blouse, trying on a Bukovynian headpiece 🙂

Another traditional costume from a different region in Ukraine

My boyfriend joined me on Saturday and got to sample some Ukrainian beer:Brewed since 1715!

I don’t think he liked it too much so Lvivske Pyvo didn’t get his stamp of approval 🙂

My daughter and I participated in the vodka tasting.  We had to compare “Slava” to “Stolichnaya” and Zirkova” to “Absolut”.

Well, Ukrainian vodka won, hands down.  Absolut is too harsh and Stoli has this “chemical” aftertaste.   Zirkova has a clean, crisp taste and Slava trickles smoothly down the throat.

Interesting piece of trivia:

Canada has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine.  Ukrainian Canadians represent the ninth largest ethnic group in the country.

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