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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

Holidays End The Epiphany

Why are all those Ukrainian politicians jumping into the icy Dnipro when you turn on the news this month? Whats On has the scoop on a bone-chilling local tradition. If youre a Westerner living in Ukraine, the Christmas season might seem to last forever. After all, youre probably oriented toward a Western calendar and following the Western media, which starts carrying Christmas advertising and content in late November at the latest.  Under normal circumstances youd expect the holiday season to be over with the New Year, but of course in Ukraine, which follows the Orthodox calendar, thats when its just starting. Right when you think the decorated pine trees should be coming down, some are still going up, and grocery stores keep playing Christmas songs until the third week in January.


Still, even the holiday season has to come to an end some time, and in Ukraine it ends with the upcoming feast of the Epiphany on 19 January. The Epiphany in general celebrates the presentation of the infant Jesus Christ to the world hence the fact that its also called the Theophany, which combines the Greek words for god and showing forth. The holiday also takes into account Jesus christening in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, which is why the blessing of water remains a core part of its observance in all churches. In the old days, and even today, Christians (at least those who lived in cold climates) would cut a hole into the ice of their local river or lake, through which to bless the water. Locally, this body of water was called a iordan, after the Biblically important river, and a religious procession was held annually around it.

 Freezing Water is Good for You!
Water from the hole is considered to have healing properties, and many of the devout believe that if you drink a bit of it youll stay mentally and physically healthy for the whole next year. (The pertinent local body of water is of course the Dnipro, and its an open question whether drinking its water is good for you, whether its been blessed or not.) Different countries have their own Epiphany traditions. In Rome, the so-called Befana is celebrated with a great fair, and pastries are sold. In some European countries, the greenery put up at Christmas is taken down at Epiphany, symbolizing the end of the winter festivities and the return to everyday life. The Irish call the Epiphany Little Christmas, the Dutch call it Three Kings Day, and in France the tradition is to eat a gateau des rois, into which a bean is baked. The Portuguese and Belgians have a similar tradition. In Spain, Mexico, Cuba and other Latin countries people use the Epiphany to commemorate the arrival of the Magi to worship the newly born son of god. Children put a note bearing wishes for gifts in their shoes, then put those shoes under their beds and hope for the best that is, that theyll be filled up with presents and goodies when they awake.

 Not for the Fainthearted
In Ukraine over the past decade, not only water blessings but bathing in icy water has become very popular. Every year you can see top Ukrainian officials, including most illustriously President Yushchenko, jumping through a hole in the ice of the Dnipro what he calls the Ukrainian Jordan - and taking a fast swim, gasping and grunting like a walrus and wearing

 Every year you can see top Ukrainian officials, including most illustriously President Yushchenko, jumping through a hole in the ice of the Dnipro what he calls the Ukrainian Jordan - and taking a short swim

 nothing but a regular bathing suit. The event is usually held in Hydropark, and generates its share of media attention. Before the celebrity ice-swimmers arrive, musicians perform a holiday concert for passers-by. Despite the terrible frosts that typically befall Ukraine every year in mid-January, hundreds of people who wish to take a dip in the frigid Dnipro waters assemble near the entrance to the Hydropark metro station, ready to strip down and suffer for the fun of it. In the past, a shot of vodka was your reward for your fortitude, but nowadays it seems that people get drunk both before and after the rite, for courage before it and to warm up after it. Call it progress. Anyway, a bracingly cold swim isnt a bad way to bid goodbye to the holidays and get ready for the new year, and as a religious rite goes, its arguably more exciting than sitting in church.

 Ksenia Karpenko


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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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