In parts of Ukraine, Kolodiy is another word for what we know as Maslyana, but while the latter is a unified Slavic tradition promoting the predominantly Russian dish – bliny (pancakes), Kolodiy is purely Ukrainian. The name of the holiday originates from the Ukrainian word “kolodka” – a stick, or a log and is connected with an old ritual: unmarried young girls would tie the stick to a leg of a bachelor. The stick used in this ritual was decorated with colourful ribbons and wearing it brought shame as being single in Ukrainian tradition was frowned upon. However, it was all in good humour as all the guy wearing the stick had to do to earn his freedom was grant the girl a dance. Traditionally, the celebrations had a “last chance” sense of urgency. In keeping with tradition, Kolodiy or Maslyana is the last week before the 40-day fast in the lead-up to Easter, so for Christians it was the last opportunity to party with drinks, food, music, singing and dancing before the long period of abstention began.
The Feasting and The Fasting
Speaking of food, the main dish for any Ukrainian Maslyana/Kolodiy celebration is varenyky (dumplings)! Firstly, because varenyky are generally known as a Ukrainian dish; secondly, because in that last week before the fast, Christians were not allowed to eat meat, but could still eat dairy products. That is why varenyky for Kolodiy would be stuffed with cottage cheese and served with sour cream and butter.
For proof Varenyky should be intertwined with the Ukrainian tradition you simply need to look at the history of the dish. As with many holidays in Ukraine and across the world, Maslyana is a mixture of ancient pagan and later Christian traditions. The Pagan tradition was connected with the end of the winter, saying goodbye to snow, cold and frosts and about welcoming the advent of spring. The Christian part of the custom marks the start of the fast before Easter. Varenyky predate Christianity in Ukraine, and this dish has always had a symbolic meaning for Ukrainians: filled with cheese, they symbolised prosperity and wealth. Varenyk also means a pregnant woman, so eating them for Maslyana could be seen as symbol of fertility and rebirth, notions linked with spring for eons. Following this logic, a “kolodka” tied to guy’s leg should prompt him to think of his life’s achievements and plan to get married.
In modern Ukraine, all these traditions – pagan, Christian, Russian and Ukrainian have melded together making the event a colourful cocktail of interesting open-air activities and dishes to try, so here’s a list of the places where you can explore all of them!
The Russian-style and probably largest celebration of Maslyana complete with bliny (pancakes) is waiting for you at Expocentre of Ukraine (Akademika Glushkova 1). Called Nova Maslyana and organised by major Ukrainian TV channel STB, the celebration will occupy nearly 300 hectares of the park-zone in the Holosiivsky district. Columbian chef Hector Jimenez Bravo, of TV's Master Chef fame, promises to cook more than 100 types of pancake! The entertainment programme is various as well – folk ensembles and finalists from numerous TV talent shows will perform throughout the day, while the main guest of the fest will appear on 17 March at 20.00 – Oleh Skrypka with Le Grand Orchestra!
16 – 17 March at 11.00 – 21.00
Expocentre of Ukraine (Akademika Glushkova 1)
Tickets are 40 – 100hrv
Authentic Ukrainian Kolodiy celebrations will take place at Mamayeva Sloboda. Beware, if you are single and unmarried, you might get a kolodka tied to your leg! But don’t worry, when having it removed, you can always invite a girl to dance – that’s after brushing up with a master-class of Ukrainian dance as well as live music. All activities are outdoors, so drinks like medovukha, mulled wine and strong Ukrainian moonshine will warm you up. Traditional Russian bliny won’t be neglected – on the contrary – a competition of varenyky versus bliny will show which tradition is stronger in Ukraine, so get ready to eat a lot!
16 – 17 March from 12.00
Mamayeva Sloboda (Mykhaila Dontsya 2)
Tickets are 50 – 100hrv, kids – 20hrv
Hata Pana Savky
, a working museum, invites you to celebrate Kolodiy in the authentic surroundings of a Ukrainian village. The schedule of activities includes tying the kolodka, calling for birds to come home, motanka master-classes, traditional Ukrainian dishes cooked in a real ancient stove – not only varenyky, but also borshch, baked potatoes and salo. The host Pan Savka will also show you how ancient Ukrainians used to farewell the winter: preparing a huge effigy of hay and cloth, symbolising winter, as soon as darkness falls he will set it ablaze to burn “winter” away and make spring come faster!
17 March at 13.00 – 18.00
Hata Pana Savky (Novi Petrivtsi Village)
Tickets are 300 – 350hrv
Ostriches are not typical in Ukraine, but this does not mean an ostrich farm in Yasnohorodka can’t hold a celebration of Maslyana! In addition to an excursion around the farm, where you’ll see not only ostriches, but also goats, pigs and sheep, you’ll also have a chance to try pancakes with different fillings and warm mulled wine. Kids can participate in outdoor activities and competitions, while adults can jump over fire. Hopefully the ostriches will also enjoy the celebration!
16 – 17 March at 13.00
Yasnohorodka Ostrich Farm (Yashohorodka village, Kyiv region, Pidlisna 32)
Tickets are 40 – 60 hrv
Mystetsky Arsenal is putting together a Maslyana for artisans and lovers of art. Instead of drinking and eating to your heart’s content, consume a little food for the soul with Mystetska Maslyana
– a three-day festival featuring all manner of traditional Ukrainian handi-crafts from embroidery to paper-cutting. Kids will love this weekend with a fabulous array of outdoor games planned, plus a workshop on spin art (a favourite of Damien Hirst, by the way), as well as a musical programme provided by Anzhelika Rudnytska – a well-known Ukrainian singer, TV-host and artist. Of course, you won’t go hungry either – pancakes and varenyky are on the menu!
14 – 17 March at 11.00 – 20.00
Mystetsky Arsenal (Lavrska 10 – 12)
Tickets are 30hrv, kids under 12 – free