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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Kyiv Traditions

Festive Ukrainian Rituals

It isnt only the date which differentiates the Orthodox Christmas from its Catholic counterpart. In the past Ukrainian Christmases were accompanied by a whole host of fascinating rituals and traditions, many of which were pagan in origin, and many families keep these ancient customs live today.


The Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on 6 January and is called Svyat Vechir, meaning Holy Evening. On 6 January it is customary for the whole family to prepare for the holiday by cleaning the house or apartment from top to bottom. This day was also considered to be the best time for confession and to find reconciliation with enemies. Christmas is considered to be a family holiday, with everybody staying home. As most readers will know being in such close proximity with ones relative for a long time can often lead to tensions, but quarrelling with family members on this day is considered to be a dreadful sin. The culmination of Christmas evening is Christmas dinner which consists of twelve dishes and the meal only begins after the first star has risen in the sky. Eating any food before Christmas dinner is prohibited, with only small children being allowed a small snack in the afternoon. The twelve traditonal dishes are borsh, varenyky, fish, porridge, beans, potatoes, goloubtsy (stuffed cabbage), mushroom pie, cabbage, peas, beans, and apple and plum pies. The centrepiece dish is kutya, which is made of wheat, honey and nuts, though kutya recipes vary throughout Ukraine. In The Carpathians, for example, traditional kutya consists of baked bread dropped into pieces in milk. In centuries past kutya was greatly revered and remained in the icon corner of the house until the water blessing later that month. The only drink allowed on Christmas Day is uzvar, a fruit compote, and even water was forbidden during the meal, though needless to say not many families follow such dictates so strictly today.

 In the past preparing for Christmas dinner was a ritual in itself. After sunset the table was covered with fresh hay or straw. Corn was then scattered over the table on to which was laid the tablecloth. Garlic was placed at each table corner in an effort to protect those in the house from evil. In West Ukraine a didukh, a holiday wheat sheaf tied in a special way, was also placed on the table. The didukh dates back to the pagan era and symbolizes the departed spirits of familys ancestors who also attend the Christmas meal. Interestingly, conversation during the meal was not encouraged. In the past 6 January included a number of other traditions. Unmarried youngsters were not allowed to sit at corner of the table as it was believed that this would affect their chances of getting married and once a person picked up a spoon they could not put it down until the meal was over. Kutya was also subject to a number of traditions. The first spoon to touch the kutya was thrown to the ceiling, so that the bees would produce good honey in the future, while the second spoon was exposed to the frost, which was symbolic of drawing the frost away from the crops. After dinner the kutya was taken to be tried by the midwife, a person of considerable power and influence in peasant society, and godparents. With the Christmas meal over the master of the house would take a piece of each dish and feed it to the cattle. This is because it was believed that on this night cows could speak, a reward bestowed on them by Christ as cows had not disturbed him while he slept in his manger. Naturally enough, the master of the house didnt want the cows complaining. The Christmas meal was left on the table throughout Christmas night allowing the spirits of dead relatives to share in the feast. After dinner it was time for Christmas carolling. Only boys were permitted to do so, and they went from house to house singing songs of good cheer. In a further example of pagan resonance, Christmas was also seen as the time to see the future. Unmarried girls would bang a plate with a spoon. This would grab the attention of the neighbourhood dogs and the direction from which the first bark came from was also the direction from where her future husband would come from. Todays Christmas celebrations may be more modest but still feature two traditional features: kutya and the traditional Christmas greeting. So if your approached by someone saying Jesus is born! this 6 January dont hesitate to answer Glorify Him!


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Comments (2)
You are not authorized! Only registered and authorized users can add their comments!
Daniele | 26.11.2014 19:46

Hi again Sofia!I love your blog!!! I look at it daily, it\'s great with your recipes esacieplly your Ukrainian revipes, my mum\'s Uki and I really like your families uki recipes & cool twists on the uki classics! I made your Borshch and it was so easy and delicious, I added the canned chickpeas & mushrooms, it was a total hit & so quick! I really want to try this Kutya as we have the usual on uki christmas eve. Great for breakfast I am sure, love that idea!I have never used quinoa, How do you cook it? Is it say 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups water and boil in a pan with lid on for 15 mins, like white rice?Thanks again, Nat

Erol | 22.11.2014 18:10

Thank you, Mr.Turner, for your contribution in our muuatl development. I do not afraid to state that we have rather close relationship between our countries at various levels.I really liked your workshop story!! Very simply but much understandable.Sincerely wish you success at further stage of your activity. And please remember Ukraine!!. Kind regards,Ludmila


 
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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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