Each year, Canadians of Ukrainian heritage celebrate their Christmas and their New Year’s celebration – Malanka – some two weeks after the rest of the general population.
Abbotsford residents are no different. This year, the Ukrainian Club of Abbotsford hosts its annual Malanka New Year’s Dinner and Dance on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Sts. Joachim and Ann’s Church hall, 2827 273 St. in Aldergrove.
While most of the western world adheres to the Gregorian calendar which was established in 1582, many Ukrainians still recognize the holidays of the much older Julian calendar.
The night of Jan. 6 (Svyata Vechera – the holy evening) sees a traditional 12-course Christmas meal being served in households, with a kolach (braided loaf) as a supper-table centrepiece, and a didukh (or decorated sheaf of wheat) standing nearby.
When the youngest member of the family announces to those present that a star is visible in the night sky on Svyata Vechera, the hospodar (or host) helps him light a candle, which is placed in the window.
The lit candle is a signal to any traveller who is lost or prevented by weather from reaching home that a place is available for him at the hospodar’s table.
After a traditional prayer, the first of 12 dishes is served: a centuries-old delicacy of wheat and poppy seeds and honey known as kutya.
Carollers may drop in on the home to sing traditional “koliadky” identical to those which their ancestors had sung in previous centuries.
A week later, Ukrainians bring in the new year with their Malanka, or New Year’s celebration.
The Malanka celebration in Aldergrove featured a meal of Ukrainian cuisine (perogies, holoptsi and the like) and is followed by a dance with live music by S-Bahn.
Dancers from the Tropak Dance Theatre from Richmond joined with Abbotsford’s Yevshan dancers in performances at Malanka on Saturday. (John Morrow photo)