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Ukrayinske rizdvo a festival which promotes Ukrainian traditions


Tina PERESUNKO, director or Ukrayinsky Promotsiyny Alyans  2 Company, co-organizer of the Ukrayinske Rizdvo (Ukrainian Christmas) festival, provides more details about the event.


The festival, which lasted from December 7 2007 through February 15 2008, was designed to heighten awareness among the general public of Ukrainian spiritual traditions, and thus contribute to the development of the spiritual energy of the Ukrainian nation.

The festival was initiated by the Kyrylo Stetsenko International Fund, and supported by the National Culture and Spirituality Council, the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the All-Ukraine Society Prosvita, the Ukrainian Folk Culture Center Muzey Ivana Honchara, the National Opera of Ukraine, the National Music Academy of Ukraine, the Ukrayinska zaliznytsya Railroad Company and the Information and Analysis Agency Nash Chas.

The dates for the start and conclusion of the festival were not arbitrarily chosen. On December 4 the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians mark Vvedennya  the Presentation in the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God and February 15 marks Stritennya the Meeting of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. Within these dates such religious feasts as Christmas and Baptism of Christ/Epiphany are celebrated.

According to age-old tradition, the winter began in earnest only after Vvedennya. The ethnographer Oleksa Voropay described it in this way: It starts snowing in earnest, the temperature drops way down below zero, the rivers are bound in ice. All the agricultural work that had to be done before the advent of winter, had been completed. Sleighs and toboggans are brought out from storage preparations for the celebrations of Christmas get underway.

The festival was divided into three parts: Prologue in December; Three Holidays in January, and Stritennya in February. The first part included Try Vechornytsi (Three Soirees) dedicated to Orthodox Saints Kateryna, Andriy and Varvara, several shows dedicated to St Mykolay (St Nicholas) and a conference which was devoted to the traditions of Ukrainian Christmas celebrations.

The second part included shows and concerts dedicated to, and connected with Holy Christmas, St Vasyl and Svyate Vodokhreshche  Baptism of Jesus Christ. The third part of the festival was devoted to the religious rituals and folk traditions connected with Stritennya. On that day, people meeting each other in the streets, exchanged greetings, saying, meet the holiday (the word Stritennya is an Old Slavonic for meeting), say goodbye to winter and say hello to summer. People wished the winter all the best but looked forward to summer which would give them food to last through the winter.

Among the shows and concerts of this years festival, the contest of bell ringers deserves a separate mention. The belfry of the cathedral of St Volodymyr was the venue. Bell ringers from Kyiv and the Land of Kyivshchyna took part in the contest. It is believed that bell-ringing, apart from its obvious function, is also good for health  the air vibrations caused by the ringing of church bells are claimed to be beneficial for the human organism.

Also, within the frameworks of the festival, a concert, Kozatska psalma, devoted to Ukrainian kobzars and their music was held. Kobzar is a musician and singer who plays the traditional Ukrainian instrument kobza, and sings his ballads. In addition to kobzars, lirnyky, bandurysty and torbanisty  players of traditional Ukrainian instruments  took part in the concert. The concert turned out to be a tribute to traditional Ukrainian culture and a sort of spiritual meditation. It is planned to make such concerts an international event with audiences that will be made of people from various countries, not only from Ukraine.

A show, Rizdvo na Vokzali  Xmas at Railroad Terminal, was indeed an unusual one. It was actually held at the Pivdenny Railroad Station in Kyiv, with kolyadky, shchedrivky and other Ukrainian Christmas carols being sung in front of the thousands of passengers waiting for their trains or arriving.

Vodosvyattya v Hidroparku (Celebrations of the Feast of Baptism of Jesus Christ in a park surrounded by water) and Liturhiya vdyachnosti  Liturgy of Gratitude, when the Pochayna Choir sang religious works written by Father Kyrylo Stetsenko, in St Volodymyrs Cathedral, were among the concluding events of the festival.

The gala concert was held at the National Opera. The grateful audience enjoyed the performance of Nina Matviyenko, Sashko the Lirnyk, Ostap Stakhiv, Choirs Khreshchatyk and Dzvony Podolu, Revutsky Male Choir, Ars Nova, Mansound and other ensembles, and the Symphony Orchestra of the Ukrainian Radio.

Says Kyrylo Stetsenko, producer of the festival, Our festival has good chances of becoming a regular event of a considerable cultural and social importance. The next festival will develop many of the ideas of the one that has just been held, and will present new bold ideas as well. We are planning to engage the President of Ukraine and other top officials, church hierarchs and culture figures in a Svyaty vechir (Christmas Eve) show which is to be televised; we are planning to organize a sort of a karaoke event at the central square of Kyiv with people singing Christmas carols rather than pop songs; we are planning to stage typical Ukrainian traditional Christmas shows  Vertepy, to be televised and broadcast over the radio, plus, we have a lot more of daring projects to carry out and events to stage at the next festival.



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