UKRAINIAN NEW YEAR

Lo­cal com­mu­nity wel­comes all to Malanka events

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - MATT OL­SON maol­[email protected]­media.com

If you’re already wist­ful for the cel­e­bra­tions that typ­i­cally fill the end of De­cem­ber, don’t worry: Malanka is right around the cor­ner.

The cel­e­bra­tions for Malanka — Ukrainian New Year’s Eve — play a huge part in the Ukrainian cul­ture and re­li­gious cal­en­dar. Malanka is New Year’s Eve ac­cord­ing to the Ju­lian cal­en­dar, and is a day for cel­e­bra­tions and fes­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the Ukrainian hol­i­day sea­son.

Taras Makowsky, arch­priest for the Ukrainian Or­tho­dox Holy Trin­ity Cathe­dral in Saska­toon, called Malanka “an­other holy day on our cal­en­dar,” and said it’s a cap­stone of Ukrainian Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions that will con­tinue for the next week.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate when I see very many peo­ple com­ing to not only the cul­tural cel­e­bra­tion but also the re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tion,” Makowsky said. “It’s very im­por­tant for us to be wel­com­ing to all of our fam­ily and all of our friends in the Saska­toon area.”

Malanka is a hol­i­day that cel­e­brates the feast day of St. Me­la­nia. Tra­di­tional Malanka cel­e­bra­tions usu­ally in­clude car­olling from house to house, playing small pranks on one an­other and per­form­ing small plays or scenes in cos­tume. Most Malanka events today also in­clude plenty of singing, danc­ing, and eat­ing to­gether in one of the last big cel­e­bra­tions ahead of Lent.

Ac­cord­ing to de­mo­graphic data from Sta­tis­tics Canada, nearly a sixth of all Saska­toon res­i­dents iden­tify as Ukrainian.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to say if all of them cel­e­brate Malanka, and many peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cul­tural back­grounds also take part in the fes­tiv­i­ties.

Makowsky said he’s al­ways pleased to see the amount of peo­ple, both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian, who come out to en­joy Malanka.

He also said there won’t be any huge cel­e­bra­tions at the cathe­dral this year be­cause they wanted to let the other Ukrainian groups in the city (like dance en­sem­bles and com­mu­nity asso­ciations) have a chance to host their own Malanka events.

One of the big­gest Malanka par­ties of the year is set to take place at Dakota Dunes Casino and fea­tures per­for­mances by Ukrainian dance and mu­sic groups from around Saska­toon, in­clud­ing the Yevshan Ukrainian Folk Bal­let Ensem­ble.

Luba Wo­j­ci­chowsky, who danced with Yevshan for 18 years, will now MC the Malanka fes­tiv­i­ties at Dakota Dunes. She said it’s one of the busiest times of the year for Ukrainian dance groups in the prov­ince.

“The Jan­uary sea­son is re­ally ex­haust­ing,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s re­ally fun. The dancers love per­form­ing at Malanka ... and we’re so happy with all the sup­port.”

Wo­j­ci­chowsky said a lot of peo­ple typ­i­cally rec­og­nize that it’s Ukrainian Christ­mas or New Year’s when the cel­e­bra­tions roll around in Jan­uary, but most never get a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the cul­ture or the re­li­gious im­pli­ca­tions.

And de­spite how busy they all get — Yevshan will per­form in three dif­fer­ent Malanka events over the next cou­ple of weeks — Wo­j­ci­chowsky said it’s un­doubt­edly one of the best times of the year.

“It’s such a fun event,” she said. “It’s re­ally just a big cel­e­bra­tion, a big party ... we’re so happy peo­ple are still in­ter­ested in com­ing to watch us.”

KaYLE NEIS FILES

Tra­di­tional dance per­for­mances are a pop­u­lar part of Malanka, which cel­e­brates Ukrainian New Year’s Eve.

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