An Evening of Bounty

If you’ve ever sung or listened to “Carol of the Bells”, you’ve indirectly partaken in one of the oldest Ukrainian traditions of shchedrivky. The old style New Year’s Eve on January 13th is called Shchedriy Vechir, which means Bountiful or Generous Evening, and part of the celebration includes young women and men visiting their neighbors and singing shchedrivky, couplets wishing good fortune, health and much of bounty in the new year. The most famous song associated with Shchedriy Vechir is “Schedryk” (Щедрик), which was arranged by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1916 and later adapted by Peter Wilhousky as an English Christmas carol, “Carol of the Bells”.

ukrainian christmas

Old traditions are closely intertwined with the customs. Shchedriy Vechir also has the alternative name of Malanka in honor of Saint Melania the Younger whose feast is celebrated on the same day. But the old, pre-Christian customs color the festivities.

Different from carols, which are performed starting on Christmas Eve on January 6th and until the Epiphany on January 19th (the Ukrainian Orthodox calendar still follows the one established by Julius Cesar), shchedrivky focuses on the bounty of nature. The original Ukrainian lyrics for “Carol of the Bells,” for instance, tell the story of a swallow visiting a household and describing all of the rich gifts the family is to see in the spring.

Even the atheistic Soviet era couldn’t eradicate the shchedrivky and other Christmas practices, though not for lack of trying. Leontovych, for instance, was murdered by a Soviet security agent just a few years after composing “Schedryk”. But while people lived off the land, these customs had much meaning and they continued to be observed, sometimes in  secret. It’s the rapid, and poorly planned, urbanization since the 1970s that has threatened the role of the countryside and its traditions.

pyrizhky-making

I don’t want to romanticize the old way of life, which was hard and rooted in conservative mores, but the spirit of Shchedriy Vechir, of generosity, goodwill and respect for nature must be retained. Visiting my grandparents in their small hamlet near Poltava, I loved walking around on January 13th and smelling the heady aromas in the crisp, wintery air–mlyntsi (crepes), varenyky (boiled dumplings), poppyseed bubliki (bagels), and garlicky holodets (pork in aspic). As soon as evening falls, groups of boys and girls, with me, a curious city kid, in tow, would go around singing “Shchedryk” and other festive verses. And taking a goat for a walk.

The most intriguing of all Shchedriy Vechir customs is to make visiting rounds with a goat, and not just any goat, a female goat or koza. In many cultures, goats are not considered noble animals, but in Ukrainian folk beliefs, the she-goat is a symbol of fertility, wealth and good fortune. (By contrast, if koza is complimented for her wisdom, the folklore doesn’t think much of her male companion. “Durniy jak tsap,” stupid as a billygoat, goes one saying.) Being visited by koza, she-goat, on the New Year’s Eve is considered lucky.

The role of koza is more likely to be played by someone dressed up as one, and the masquerade is as much part of the general revelry and jokes that take place during the New Year’s festivities as an omen for an abundant year. For their efforts, the singers and masqueraders are rewarded with delicacies prepared on New Year’s Eve. The old songs tell us that you could bring a whole dinner home as a reward for your efforts, but chocolates, candies, oranges, and nuts are more common today.

pyrizhky1

My grandmother frowns upon the new custom of giving money, because it undermines the generous, free spirit on the part of both the singers and hosts. “If you feel like giving money, donate it to the charity,” she says. If you visit her house this year, you will leave with homemade pyrizhky, buns stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms, white beans and onions or soft cheese and raisins. The aromas of buttery yeasted dough or earthy mushrooms greet you the moment you step into the yard.

If you would like to listen to Mykola Leontovych’s original version of “Shchedryk”, here is an example sung by Lviv’s Girls Choir. It differs from the English version and uses ancient chant elements. It is a minute and a half of utter beauty.

Painting by artist Marfa Timchenko (1922 —2009), who specialized in traditional Ukrainian decorative painting called “petrykivka,” based on its origins in Petrykivka village of the Dnipropetrovsk region. This highly ornamental style is heir to the Ukrainian baroque movement of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The other two photos are of my grandmother making her signature pyrizhky. They were taken in the summer, when we took advantage of our cherry bounty.

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100 Comments

  • sara: the singing is amazing, beautiful! thanks a lot for an interesting story and for sharing. January 13, 2015 at 8:28am Reply

    • Marika: Yes, very beautiful! I was sorry it ended. January 13, 2015 at 9:03am Reply

      • Victoria: I enjoyed finding this clip on youtube, because it gave me a chance to listen to many different versions and pick a favorite. This performance by a Bel Canto Choir in Vilnus, Lithuania is also beautiful:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UmvUy1LziE January 13, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

        • Marika: Thank you. It’s very moving. January 13, 2015 at 11:43am Reply

          • Victoria: It really is! I can listen to it over and over again and it still touches me. January 13, 2015 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to share and glad to hear that you liked it! January 13, 2015 at 11:09am Reply

  • Anne: I enjoyed this post very much and learned something new. Does it mean that because 2015 is the year of the Goat, it’s extra lucky? January 13, 2015 at 8:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, I didn’t even think about it. 🙂 January 13, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

    • solanace: That’s cool, let’s hope it’ll be an extra lucky year for Ukraine. January 13, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: Fingers crossed! Even if it were a fraction than the last year, it would still be good. January 13, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Marika: I want one of those buns! Too bad my singing voice is no good. 😉 January 13, 2015 at 8:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Don’t worry! Everyone who visits my grandmother gets fed. One need not even sing. 🙂 January 13, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

  • Michaela: Beautiful article! Love the painting and the singing, also.
    Hats off to all the people who kept their practices and songs even under soviet hard times.
    The she-goat custom is so nice, and the comment about he-goat, so funny.
    Your grandmother is right again 🙂 Congratulations for her magnificent buns! She is such a treasure of a woman. January 13, 2015 at 9:19am Reply

    • Tammy: I’m loving the custom of taking a female goat to bless people’s homes. How cute! January 13, 2015 at 9:52am Reply

      • Victoria: My mom says that it really used to done with a goat, but I have never seen that myself. Even in the 19th century accounts of these celebrations, the goat masqueraders are mentioned. Of course, if you’re actually in the countryside, goats shouldn’t be too hard to find. 🙂 January 13, 2015 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: She really is, and thank you for saying so. 🙂

      I’m not sure how it happened that she-goat became so revered in Ukraine, but she is. There is even an old folk saying “koziachyj rozum,” which is a compliment. These customs are really so old. January 13, 2015 at 11:19am Reply

  • Hanna: This is my first comment on this wonderful blog. I love that you write about many different things and as someone mentioned here, I often learn something new from your posts. Your grandmother reminds me of my own, who’s also very practical and generous. Baking with my Nana is the nicest of childhood memories. January 13, 2015 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Welcome, Hanna! Thank you for commenting.
      Baking with my grandmother can be a little stressful, since she’s a micromanager, but in the end, it’s fun and I pick up many different tricks. Once I start baking or cooking with her (or doing anything else under her supervision), I remember that she spent her working years as a teacher, and it shows. 🙂 January 13, 2015 at 11:22am Reply

  • Julie: Hello, How beautiful to listen to the choir…If f we listened to this type of music all year long our hearts would be transformed daily. Living a life filled of generosity, goodwill and respect for nature and our neighbors should be a resolution we all choose. “Carol of the Bells” is one of my favorites. The custom of walking the female goat, koza is very sweet and interesting. I would enjoy doing that…so beautiful! After listening to the choir I’m ready for Christmas to begin again tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this Victoria, the photos and the art are nothing short of extraordinary. 🙂 Have a wonderful day! Julie January 13, 2015 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: And I can’t agree with you more on that resolution!

      If you want to follow the Orthodox calendar for a day, you can join in celebrating the new year. 🙂 I personally don’t have much preferences for the old vs new rites, but a chance to have another round of holidays is always welcomed. January 13, 2015 at 11:25am Reply

  • Geraldine Ethen: I accompany two choirs, and the Holy Redeemer school choir here in Portland, Oregon, sang in December a version of “Carol of the Bells” that was very near to the original. It is one of my very favorite of all the beautiful Christmas carols.
    And thank you for describing the other wonderful and meaningful customs from Ukraine. I hope their memory is never lost!
    Happy New Year! January 13, 2015 at 10:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I also hope so. These are such special and beautiful customs. January 13, 2015 at 11:27am Reply

  • Tammy: Took a moment to listen to the Ukrainian version and everyone is right, it’s gorgeus. January 13, 2015 at 11:06am Reply

    • Tammy: *gorgeous* I can’t spell today January 13, 2015 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Happy to hear this! Yes, it’s just longer than a minute. I love the way the voices swell in the middle of the song and then finish on that delicate note. January 13, 2015 at 11:28am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you for this journey into Ukraïne!
    You are blessed with your grandmother.
    I wish I had that picture on Christmas cards.
    Such a pity that my computer (from prehistory) did not give the sound of the song. January 13, 2015 at 11:08am Reply

    • Victoria: I was thinking the same thing about the cards. Timchenko was such a prolific artist, and if you want to see more of her work, do google her name in Ukrainian “Марфа Тимченко.”

      By the way, when I was reading up on these customs, I realized how some of them echo the Greco-Roman cults, and apparently, there is a whole school of ethnographic research that links them. For instance, the old Ukrainian myth of how winter happened is very similar to the myth of Persephone and Demeter. I thought that as a scholar of ancient history, you’d find it interesting. January 13, 2015 at 11:32am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you! Everything regarding religion and mythology is interesting for me.
        I am not surprised: The Greeks were there! In their religion, the he-goat was more important (think of Pan!). Dionysos was sometimes connected with he-goats, and these animals were sacrificed to him (in his role of fertility-god).
        I am very flattered to be called a scholar, thank you! But no, I am a simple teacher of Latin and Greek. January 13, 2015 at 12:24pm Reply

        • Marilyn: Cornelia, if you can teach Latin and Greek you are a scholar! January 13, 2015 at 2:07pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Well, thank you Marilyn! I think a scholar must publish books and articles… January 13, 2015 at 2:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: I was reading an article that argued that the other name for New Year’s Eve, Malanka or Melanka, comes from Melanaigis (“of the black goatskin”), one of the epithets used for Dionysus. Perhaps, there is something to it, since the customs of the holidays clearly predate Christianity by centuries. January 13, 2015 at 3:14pm Reply

          • Victoria: P.S. In my thinking, you’re a scholar, papers or not. January 13, 2015 at 3:15pm Reply

            • Karen: I agree with Victoria, publishing does not equal scholar – but from reading your comments on various topics it’s obvious to me that your love of learning and knowledge makes you a scholar! January 13, 2015 at 5:25pm Reply

              • Victoria: You put it very nicely what I was thinking too! January 14, 2015 at 11:25am Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: You make me blush! January 13, 2015 at 5:25pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Fascinating! Did the author of the article make a connection with Dionysos?
            ”of the black goatskin” reminds me of Pallas Athena’s goatskin (her aigis), Malanka and Athena being both feminine. But Athena swings the powerful aigis in battles, not for a prosperous new year. January 13, 2015 at 5:25pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, he did, but he also mentioned that as the society switched from the matriarchal to the patriarchal order, the stories were changed to accommodate it. For instance, some adventures attributed to goddesses started being attributed to male gods, etc. January 14, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: I see! Thank you. January 14, 2015 at 11:44am Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: p.s. Who is the author of this article? January 14, 2015 at 12:17pm Reply

                  • Victoria: The ethnographer’s name is Dikareff. January 14, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

  • smellslikeroses: When I was younger I sang in the choir and we performed Carol of the Bells in a couple of different versions. One of them was more like your examples, closer to the original, but all were beautiful.
    The photos of your grandmother’s pastries are making my mouth water. January 13, 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Fascinating! I read that there are many different versions of Carol of the Bells, which has been rearranged many times. The first time I heard the English version was in “Home Alone.”

      I wish I could have my grandmother’s pyrizhky now. January 13, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

  • solanace: This is all so beautiful. Your grandma, the painting, the music, the image of kids walking a goat… Thank you for sharing, Victoria! January 13, 2015 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Aurora: I hope goats were fed too while doing all that blessing! Your grandmother’s pyrizhky look so delicious and the filling is as red as the young singers’ beautiful costumes. The carol clip is heavenly, off to listen to it one more time. January 13, 2015 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Cherry pyrizhky are my favorites, although the ones with plums might rival them, but I miss the plum season in Ukraine last year. Essentially, it’s like a feathery, rich brioche. At home I use a mixer to achieve the same effect my grandmother does with her hands. But I kneaded the dough for this batch myself and got a good arm workout. 🙂

      Goats are treated really well, especially the she-goats, because they produce milk and wool. January 13, 2015 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Johanob: I love learning about other culture’s customs and traditions!Living in South Africa,we also have a diverse set of cultural traditions,and it fascinates me to learn about them as well.Happy New Year Victoria! January 13, 2015 at 1:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love it too. Learning about other people’s customs makes my world richer, and sometimes I add some new traditions to my own. January 13, 2015 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Amalia: OH MY GOD! HOW SMALL IS THE WORLD! We have also pyrizhky in Greece, called piroski – πιροσκί filled with shredded meat and hard boiled eggs in cubes, or sausages, or boiled mashed potatoes with sauteed onions. Of course we know in Greece that is a traditional recipe from Russia, Ukraine, have brought by the Pontians. Carol of the Bells is so touching! I love also Georgian and Corsican Polyphonies, Serbian folk music.
    And what you said about the Persephone and Demeter myth is true!

    P.S. I’m working on the recipe of greek Koliva, but I don’t want to send it to you during Christmas!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! January 13, 2015 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Pyrizhky, little pies, are loved all over Eastern Europe, although they might have slightly different names based on the region. Funny, I was thinking this morning that I’ll trying making my grandmother’s pyrizhky dough but using a Greek filling of spinach and feta for one of the batches.

      I love Georgian traditional music too, which is eerily beautiful.

      Thank you for the recipe, but please no rush. Whenever you have time! January 13, 2015 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Marilyn: Victoria – seeing, and hearing, your post today was like receiving a beautiful gift. Thank you so much! As I listened to the clip I realized that I had never heard that dear old carol sung so beautifully. Interesting that the choir is Lithuanian – so is my husband!
    Also I love to learn about customs in other cultures, so thank you, thank you! January 13, 2015 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy to share, then. Being away from my family, I can’t celebrate with them, so I felt like inviting everyone else for a bit of Ukrainian New Year’s Eve. 🙂 January 13, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Karen: Beautiful singing! And the traditional outfits are stunning. I love the tradition of taking the goat! Female goats can be a little rascally, but they are just such wonderful animals! And look at the bounty they provide, milk and also fibers for spinning. January 13, 2015 at 2:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: The red of their costumes is so beautiful. I love that deep, rich shade of crimson. Thankfully, the traditional embroidery and clothes are coming back in vogue little by little as people discover how beautiful they are.

      We grew up on goat’s milk at my grandmother’s, and even now when I visit, our neighbor sets aside some goat milk for me. When my brother was little, he played with the neighbor’s daughters and helped them look after the goats. So, at the end of the summer, he received a small round of cheese. He was very proud of his work! Until then, growing up in the US suburbs, he has seen goats only in photos. January 13, 2015 at 3:33pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Lovely post as always, my favourite is the bit with the goat, I wouldn’t mind walking a goat once in a while. I came across an abandoned piglet in the woods last summer and I was deeply smitten. Unfortunately he wouldn’t come close and it took the Animal Rescue Center quite a while to catch him.

    The music is beautiful. It reminded me a little of some old Western European polyphonic music. Have you ever listened to the Graduel d’Aliénor de Bretagne? Highly recommended.

    Your grandmother is something else isn’t she? I love the term micromanager 😉 January 13, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

  • AndreaR: Your words and images captured the spirit of this holiday beautifully. Thank you. January 13, 2015 at 5:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank so much! Happy to hear that you think so. January 14, 2015 at 11:25am Reply

  • AndreaR: I have no idea if this will come through because I’m clueless when it comes to technology. It’s a beautiful instrumental version of Schedryk from the Ukrainian Bandurist Choir, arranged by the legendary Hryhory Kytasty.
    https://de-de.facebook.com/ukrainianbanduristchorus/posts/207557482661442 January 13, 2015 at 5:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Beautiful! That is one of my favorite instruments, along with cello and piano. January 14, 2015 at 11:27am Reply

  • Sofie: Beautiful, everything! Thank you for taking the time to share all this with us. The colours of the costumes are stunning, really rich. Gregorian singing is equally beautiful. Isn’t it supposed to only be sung by men? (I know this wasn’t Gregorian, I was just wondering when you mentioned it.)
    I find it so interesting to see how customs and cultures are intertwined. As a girl, we went round the neighboorhood on the 6th of jan, singing in return for candy. Driekoningen as someone has mentioned in a previous post. We would dress up as one of the kings or wise men and go round in groups of three. It was also the day the Christmas tree was taken down. In my husbands family it was the day to eat appelbollen, whole apples baked in pastry. I had no idea it boiled down to the orthodox calendar. January 13, 2015 at 6:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not just men, although they had only men in the Unesco clip on youtube. If you search youtube for “Gori Women Choir,” you can hear an example. It’s incredibly haunting and eerily beautiful. I can’t really describe it in any other way. And the virtuosity of the singers and the conductor are impressive.

      The Orthodox Julian calendar diverges by 13 days, I believe, from the Gregorian one, but really, there are so many customs and traditions around this time that I wouldn’t surprised by overlaps. And singing in return for candy beats “trick or treating” for me. One of the reasons my grandmother is so against the new custom of giving money is that kids starting rushing the song to get paid. Whereas the whole purpose of shchedrivky is to *bring* good wishes, not to get a financial reward. By the way, my great-grandmother also prepared “apples in a handkerchief”, as she called them, for the holiday. 🙂 January 14, 2015 at 11:36am Reply

      • Sofie: Ah, thank you for putting that right, about Gregorian singing. No idea why I had that in my head.
        Apples in a handkerchief 🙂 January 15, 2015 at 5:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: For some reason I also thought that until a friend corrected me! Maybe, because most performances I heard were by men’s choral groups. January 15, 2015 at 5:11pm Reply

  • Kandice: Thank you for sharing. The singing was just beautiful! January 13, 2015 at 10:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! 🙂 January 14, 2015 at 11:36am Reply

  • Andy: So wonderful to learn about the Ukrainian New Year’s Eve. Most of all, I’m enchanted by the visuals–the sight of your grandmother’s filled buns is mouthwatering, and this particularly beautiful painting by Marfa Timchenko has me looking up and admiring more of her work. I love the bold use of color–referring to both the centers of this summer’s cherry buns and the paintings, of course! 🙂 January 13, 2015 at 10:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I was visiting an embroidery and art college near my grandmother’s town in Ukraine, I saw some of the petrikivka paintings there, and I was mesmerized by the color. The way the layers are added–one overlapping with another–makes the whole thing glow. But I especially love the personal elements in Pani Marfa’s work, which set her style apart from that of other masters. January 14, 2015 at 11:40am Reply

  • jillie: This article is absolutely magical, Victoria – the words, pictures, music and traditions are all beautiful and have cheered my spirits. Thank you! January 14, 2015 at 1:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear it! It’s a cheerful, fun holiday, and I’m happy I could convey a bit of it. January 14, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

  • CateHerself: Victoria, I’ve been an appreciative reader for about a year and, because of you, may just be Serge Lutens’ best customer in Colorado. No complaints! I so enjoy your posts about your Ukrainian heritage. I am a textile artist, and have recently started translating the motifs used on Ukrainian embroidery to a weaving structure called double weave pick up. The lore and tradition behind the motifs is a huge draw — just endlessly fascinating. Posts such as this provide a living, lovely context for my work. So, thanks! Happy New Year to you. January 14, 2015 at 10:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Cate! Your project sounds really incredible, and I’d love to see a photo once you’re done. I spent a part of this summer learning traditional embroidery from a local master near my grandmother’s town, and it made me curious to learn about techniques and patterns. There is such rich symbolism behind the designs and while each woman personalized her own piece, they combined elements in order to tell a story as well as create something beautiful. The wishes for good fortune, healthy family and good harvest are at the core of many motifs.
      Happy New Year to you too! January 14, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Myroslava: I am also a weaver,(a recently self taught one,though),and got fascinated by you idea of using the double pick up weave to “translate” the Ukrainian embroidery motives into the woven cloth. Would be extremely happy,if it could be possible for you to share the achievements of your technique with this audience to admire. November 26, 2015 at 11:32pm Reply

      • CateHerself: Thank you for commenting! I can’t figure out how to share a photo, so here is a link to a public Facebook album showing some pieces of my work. Let me know if you cannot open it and we will find another way to share.

        I hope you enjoy being a weaver — I adore it! Best to you.

        https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10205498877087725.1073741848.1125245988&type=1&l=65a99897c0 November 27, 2015 at 9:38am Reply

        • Myroslava: Thank you for taking time to answer my comment. I shall try your posted address and let you know ASAP. November 27, 2015 at 7:27pm Reply

          • Myroslava: Dear Cathy, Just has had a quick look at your page, WOW ! My guess is,you’re quite an experienced weaver, -your artwork is Amazing!!! How long have you been weaving,and are you a self taught, or did you take classes? Is my guess correct,that your “embroidered”,(if I may call them),runners/place mats were woven on a loom more complex than a rigid heddle loom I work with ? I got some literature describing technique,of how to make a rigid heddle loom work for weaving designs made for a as much as a 4 shaft loom,and I am tempted to try something like that. Alas,now that my country is fighting off Russian invasion,I devote all my time to weaving some simple pieces like shawls.wraps,table sets,etc,that are later sold here in the US to help the war effort in Ukraine,and I don’t feel, I can take time off experimenting, just because of my personal desire.
            Anyhow,so happy to have met you,and with your permission,I shall be checking your facebook from time to time to see some,hopefully,more and more inspiring artwork of yours. My best regards to you, Sincerely, Myroslava. November 27, 2015 at 8:10pm Reply

            • CateHerself: Dear Myroslava, I’m glad the link worked and thank you for your WOW! I just now read the exchange between you and Victoria and am so impressed by and grateful for your generosity as a weaver. This past August, I did a weaving demonstration at a Ukrainian Independence Day celebration in Denver and had the most amazing time. Women would come up and remark on how they recalled their mothers or grandmothers in Ukraine weaving but said they’d never learned. Then, they’d encourage their sometimes very young (5-10 years) daughters to have a go and – wow again – those girls were naturals. Never, never in my experience of teaching weaving have I experienced such innate understanding of how to weave. It was marvelous and I would absolutely believe it was genetic memory. As for myself, I’ve been a weaver for about 20 years with the benefit of classes and books. While the pieces you saw were woven on a 4-harness loom, I have great affection for the rigid heddle. It’s portable and versatile – think of all those wonderful textiles from the Andes and Mexico woven on backstrap looms – really the same concept as the rigid heddle. I understand and respect your need to weave for the market, and you have a great loom for that, and for letting your imagination soar with at the proper time. My very best to you, Cathy December 2, 2015 at 9:27am Reply

              • Victoria: This is such an incredible story, and yes, I believe that there is such a thing as a genetic memory. The arts and crafts are a big part of the Ukrainian culture, and traveling through villages you sometimes see houses, wells and fences decorated in such a pretty manner–painted, carved, etc.

                Textiles, in general, are one of my passions, and I’m always impressed by people who keep such traditions up. December 2, 2015 at 11:40am Reply

              • Myroslava: Dear Cathy,

                Thank you so much for your reply ! Since seeing first your artwork, I can’t stop thinking about it and the way you had created it. I have probably an overactive imagination,- with too many ideas in my head and too little time for even a 1/4 of these to be done. I am sincerely grateful to your for the generosity with which you share your beautiful craftsmanship,- for, indeed, once tried weaving is hard to let go, and I believe, should be taught to children at schools alongside the embroidery, beadwork, etc. Not everyone is born with a talent for painting, writing poetry or music, but everyone wants to be part of/create something beautiful, and by learning crafts everyone with a thirst for beauty can find one’s place of self expression, fulfillment, enrichment, joy- you name it, to say nothing of the tremendous therapeutic value of creative work. For this reason I have a great respect for craftsmen like yourself, who selflessly reach out to the world and share their knowledge enriching the lives of others. May God bless you !

                Sincerely, Myroslava. December 4, 2015 at 7:00am Reply

          • Victoria: By the way, there is another reader here who’s interested in weaving. Her screen name is Karen (A). She also has a great knowledge of textiles from different traditions. November 28, 2015 at 3:05pm Reply

            • Myroslava: Thank you Victoria,for being so attentive to your followers’ comments, may God bless your work! November 28, 2015 at 7:14pm Reply

              • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words, Myroslava. I’m touched by how much you do for others through your weaving. November 30, 2015 at 10:06am Reply

                • Myroslava: Your blog,Victoria,is like a breath of Zephyrus from enchanted lands of beauty and tranquility and means a lot to me. And my kind words are not a mere flattery. As to my weaving for Ukraine,- this is my duty and the least I can do for my suffering country. As you,probably,know, -it is awfully painful to be so far away from your people in their time of need. Unfortunately,I couldn’t/can’t give my life in place of the fallen patriots’, so my weaving efforts help me relieve my pain of mourning a tiny bit and also gives me such a tremendous pleasure. So,alas, my humble contribution has but a selfish motive behind…
                  I also enjoy it so much,that with your blog’s help I can practice my French a bit,-I refer to your video pieces about the production of Sambac jasmine in India,etc. I can only hope,that people working in such places enjoy their experience as much as my imagination makes me believe.
                  May God ‘s blessings be with all !!! November 30, 2015 at 6:33pm Reply

                  • Victoria: Thank you so much, dear Myroslava. Your motives are entirely pure and not selfish. If more people were driven by such generosity and attention to beauty, the world would be a better place. December 1, 2015 at 2:03am Reply

                    • Myroslava: Thank you,Victoria, for you kind words and encouragement ! December 2, 2015 at 9:05pm

        • Victoria: Cate, these are so beautiful! Your skill is impressive. November 28, 2015 at 2:57pm Reply

          • CateHerself: Victoria, thank you for the kind words and for your wonderful blog. It enriches my live, and I particularly appreciated the opportunity to re-read this post and, wow, to chat with Myroslava and learn about her most generous work. December 2, 2015 at 9:12am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you so much for such kind words! It’s one of the joys of this blog is that it allows me to meet such interesting people from around the world. December 2, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

  • Aisha: I just packed away my Christmas decorations this past Sunday, but not without first seriously considering using the Orthodox calendar as an excuse to keep them up a little longer. Even though I put up my decorations in mid-November, I never get tired of seeing the lights, the jewel-toned colors and listening to Christmas music. 🙂

    “Carol of the Bells” is one of my favorite Christmas songs (the other bing O Holy Night). It’s also more difficult to sing well than it seems. Loved this version. January 14, 2015 at 6:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: O Holy Night is such a beautiful carol.

      Well, my husband jokes that since the deadline for the pick up of Christmas tree has passed, we might as well keep ours till spring (when they pick up the garden refuse.) As it is, it’s going to go down in a week or so, and it occupy a spot on our balcony till March. 🙂 January 15, 2015 at 8:53am Reply

  • claudia: Thanks Victoria for this great post! Those buns look so good! You wouldn’t consider posting the recipe? January 15, 2015 at 5:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll be happy to post it! This is one recipe I actually measured precisely when my grandmother made it, because otherwise I couldn’t get the same results. 🙂 January 15, 2015 at 8:59am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Thank you for posting the beautiful Lviv girls choir’s song, it sounds like silver bells and dancing snowflakes, very magical! I think I could hear the high overtones produced by such harmonic singing. I came across a celtic reference where this time of the year (21 december – 21 january) is governed by the muse Polyhymnia, very apt for this choir! January 15, 2015 at 10:14am Reply

    • Victoria: How appropriate! I didn’t know that, and I love the connection. Glad that you liked the song. Those girls did a wonderful job! January 15, 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: Absolutely, but I also found the conductor to be very moving, conducting with such joy and pride in ‘his girls’, and having such ease and souplesse in his hands and arms. So much talent in the Ukraine! January 15, 2015 at 5:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂
          True, I enjoyed watching his movements. January 15, 2015 at 5:32pm Reply

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