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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 Culture

Eastern Christmas

Around here Christmas is celebrated according to the Julian calendar, which means this year it will fall on January 8. Thats only one of the things that will strike Westerners as unusual about the holiday as celebrated locally. Heres our guide to some other charming peculiarities of the Yuletide, Slavic-style.


In many parts of Ukraine, particularly in the countrys rural, pious west, youll find people creating so-called vertep, or nativity, scenes. The word vertep derives from the Greek word for cave and refers to the miniature stage in which the scenes take place. Like all nativity scenes, vertep tableaux depict little Jesus in the manger, Mary, the strangers offering their gifts, and the star of Bethlehem shining in the sky. The scenes are typically exhibited in public places, usually near or inside churches. At night candles shine within them, charmingly illuminating the little displays for people who attend mass on Christmas Eve. Vertep scenes derive, by the way, from the puppet theatre performances that thrilled audiences in Ukraine from the 16th to 18th centuries.

 In Ukrainian, Christmas Eve is called Sviaty Vechir, or Holy Evening, or alternatively Sviata Vecheria, or Holy Supper. Traditionally the womenfolk of the house outdo themselves in cooking for the occasion. The host of the house spreads out fresh, fragment hay on which the gala banquet is placed. A traditional country-style Ukrainian table will feature a roast pig, sausage, jellied pigs feet, and blood pudding. Inside the pots arrayed on the table youll find kutya, a special Christmas pudding made from honey, nuts, and plums, and uzvar, a dried fruit compote. Occasionally youll find the pots covered with a traditional bread known as knish. Youll also invariably find a pot containing borscht, the famous Ukrainian soup to which Westerners need no introduction. It includes potatoes, cabbage, beets, tomatoes, and beans and is served with bread and sour cream. Vareniki are another dish that probably need no introduction: the boiled (and sometimes fried) dough dumplings filled with cheese, meat, potatoes or fruit. The Christmas Eve meal is attended by a number of traditions. There must, for example, be either nine or 12 courses: no other number will do. Also, the table has to be adorned with wax candles. The host has to say a prayer to ward off evil spirits, and sometimes a table setting, along with some extra food, is left in honour of a departed ancestor or patriarch. Its also said that the hostess should behave like a clucking chicken while shes preparing the food. Why? To encourage the household hens to lay lots and lots of eggs.

 Ukrainians like their Christmas trees, and every house has traditionally had one. In Western Ukraine, youll often find the table decorated with a so-called didukh that is, a sheaf of oats or wheat formed into a special shape defined by four legs and a bunch of little bundles. The didukh symbolises prosperity in the coming year. A family member might also place wheat sheaves, rakes, and scythes in the corner of one of the houses rooms as a sign that the past year has been agriculturally successful. After the meal has been consumed and everyones as full as a tick, the family stays around the table for fortune telling, which brings with it yet another whole rafter of appealing traditions. One superstition has it that if Christmas Eve is starry, the coming year will be a bountiful one. After the meal, the dishes are left on the table to be cleaned up the following day. The children go to visit with relatives and, hopefully, entertain them. Its now that gifts are exchanged. One of the most charming Christmas traditions is known as koliadki and schedrivki, or caroling, which is a good way to walk off dinner in the bracing winter air. Radujsia zemle, radujsia, syn Bozhyj narodyvsia, people might sing: Be joyful, earth, be joyful, the Son of God is born. Or else theres this one, rather more secular: Dobryj vechir, sviaty vechir, dobrym liudiam na zdorovja - Good evening, holy evening, health to you good people. Children and young men visit every house in the village, where theyre praised by residents who wish them health and happiness and reward them with something good to eat so as not to end up the victims of a prank!

Anastasiya Skorina


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Comments (1)
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momo | 06.01.2011 20:40

We are not alone, Ethiopian. we use the most ancient calendar to Celebrate our King's birth. Celebrate together.

Have a blessed HOLLYDAY


 
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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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