Tag Archive | traditions

Happy Easter 2018

It has been a busy Holy Week and we celebrate Easter this weekend with our family and friends.  I took the Easter basket of special foods to church today to be blessed and our family will be sharing it for our breakfast.

In addition to the traditional foods, I included eight of my newly written pysanky. Why so many?  Well, I like to give away my pysanky and I will not give them to anyone until I have taken them to church to be blessed.

For many years now, I have been trying to improve my pysanky writing skills.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I started writing pysanky with my mom at the age of two.  I was asked last week if I have made the pysanky every year.  To this I had to say no.  Like many of you I started out learning the Ukrainian traditions at home when young.  But as a teenager, it really wasn’t so cool to “be Ukrainian” so I stopped writing them with my mom.  And as the years went by, my career took over much of my time and unfortunately I didn’t make any for a number of years.  But this all changed when I became a parent myself.

When my children were old enough to hold a crayon, I knew that they could also hold a kistka.  It was time to teach them to learn about the traditional art of pysanky.  We started out hand-over-hand and as you can see, they didn’t do too bad at all.  Yes, I’m a proud mom and yes, I have saved all of my children’s eggs.  I’ve included a couple of them in this post.  Also don’t forget to check out my Pysanky photos on my Home page.

 

 

Happy Easter everyone!

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Wedding Rushnyk Journey

Since the last post that I did on stitching the Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk, I have made a lot of progress.  Well, to be honest…….I am now totally finished the stitching!  And, I must say, “what a project”.  I do not think I could ever do this again!

Here it is….the last stitch!

Just a bit of a recap here.  On November 6th., 2016, I started cross-stitching a Wedding Rushnyk. Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk

I kept at it and kept you informed.  Still Stitching !

Take a good look however and see the change I made on the top and lower border.  I decided in the last month to not stitch the roses on the border but chose a less complicated and fewer stitches band design.  It’s not as busy looking but most importantly, I have not been blinded by this project.

 

Seriously.  I found that my eyesight was rapidly deteriorating and I just couldn’t do any more.

My Man helped me out by setting up the brightest lights for me.  I went to see my optometrist and had prescription eyeglasses made.  But I knew that if I didn’t change-up the pattern, I would not be able to complete it.

I chatted with my friends and even my neighbour came over to see what my dilemma was.  She totally agreed with me and helped me choose a complimentary design.  I’m so grateful for her because I was feeling very overwhelmed and had the feeling that I was “chickening” out of my project. Rushnyk update #3

Want to hear what I find really strange?  I completed the very last stitch on My Man and my wedding anniversary.  To my way of thinking, it was meant to be because I sure didn’t plan it this way.  But wait, I was not quite finished yet.

Next thing that I had to do was to wash the entire cloth.  Even though I had washed my hands and kept my work space clean, oil from my hands did get on the cloth.  I had read somewhere that one had to be very careful about washing a project.  Sometimes the colours of the thread bled.  Great, I thought.  The last thing I needed now was to have the red and black colours run into each other.

Once again I asked around to seek advice from anyone who looked or sounded knowledgeable about cross-stitch.  So much information on the internet and some I knew I shouldn’t believe.

It was at my church where I found the best advice.  I knew I could trust these Ukrainian women because they had recently stitched dance outfits for their grandchildren.  Their advice?  Ice cold water for the first wash; ice-cold water for a second wash but add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water; do not rub stitches or wring out; lay flat on fluffy white towel to dry.  It worked!

This Rushnyk has been stitched with love for my niece.  Even when I felt like quitting, I thought of her and her future husband.  This stitching was very hard at times.

As I stitched, I thought about how hard a marriage can be as well.

Every little step of married life is a journey.  Each day needs to be worked on with great care and kindness to each other.  Just like the stitching of this Wedding Rushnyk, there needs to be a plan and an exciting  pattern to follow.  Of course, just like stitching, there will be knots to untie, threads to untangle and even tears to shed from time to time.  But eventually, a life-long design will emerge.

So here it is!  Once again I thank all of you who followed along with me and encouraged me to keep going, one stitch at a time.  

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Celebrating Each and Every Day

Easter, “Velikdenn” – “The Great Day” is here this weekend and like many of you, I am busy preparing our Easter basket and other foods to share with our family and friends.

When I woke up this morning, I had decided to make a butter lamb for the Easter basket that I would be bringing to church to be blessed.  As I mentioned in an earlier post on Ukrainian Easter, we take a basket of special traditional foods to be blessed and then shared with our family on Easter morning.

As I prepared the ingredients and started shaping the butter into a lamb’s body shape, I thought about the time that my sister-in-law made a lamb for us.

SIL is a very special person in our family and in many ways sometimes seems more Ukrainian than I am.

 

SIL is English-speaking  and did not grow up Catholic.  Now over the years that she has been married to my brother, she has learned some of the Ukrainian language as well as many of the customs and traditions.  She is an amazing cook and I have borrowed many of her recipes over the years.  Her holubsti are so much tastier than mine will ever be !

But I digress.  I started thinking about her and this lamb because a few years back, SIL offered to make My Man and I a butter lamb for an anniversary dinner.  At first, I thought great…it’ll be so yummy.  I love eating lamb but had never seen it prepared like butter chicken (so I assumed).  Little did I know.  SIL laughed and said “No, no.  I’ll make you a butter lamb for your dinner table.  It’s butter and we’ll spread it on our bread and buns.”

She then proceeded to cut into a pound of butter and shape a small animal into it. The animal was a lamb.

Maybe I’m just being nostalgic this weekend but I am very thankful for my sister-in-law and I want her to know it.  I now know how to make my own butter lamb. Thank You SIL!

I don’t think we say we are grateful to our family or friends enough.

As we celebrate this Easter weekend, let’s not just think about the food however.  Let’s think about the wonderful people who share our daily lives.  Let’s celebrate these busy yet fun family and friend times now, each and every day.

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Happy Easter.  Khrystos Voskres.

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Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk

I just received some wonderful news!  It was an engagement and wedding announcement.  My eldest niece is getting married.  I am so happy for her and her future husband.  They are a wonderful couple and I wish them every happiness.

But wait!  There’s more that I can do and I have decided that I am going to include you in this little adventure that I have in mind.  I am going to cross stitch a Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk for them.

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A Rushnyk is a Ukrainian embroidered towel which symbolizes hope that the newlywed couple will never face poverty or hard times.  I think there is a saying “may the couple never stand on a bare dirt floor”.

During the wedding ceremony in church, the rushnyk is spread on the floor in front of the altar.  Traditionally it was said that whoever stepped on the cloth first would be the head of the family.  However now a days, most grooms hesitate just a second and let their bride step on it first.

The rushnyk is also used to bind the hands of the bride and groom during the ceremony to signify their union.  The priest leads the couple around the altar three times.  This procession symbolizes that marriage is a never-ending journey led by Christ. These are the first steps that the couple will take as husband and wife.

So I have decided that I will take my first steps too and cross stitch a rushnyk for them.

No, I have never taken on a project like this before.  When growing up at home, I did not learn how to cross stitch.  However, I was taught how to embroider by my mom.  Take a look at these tea towels and pillow cases.

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Not bad for a little girl, right?

I am hoping that I will get your blessings and encouragement as I take on this project. I am teaching myself how to cross stitch right now and would like to share this journey with you.

I have everything I need and I have just started!  Here are my first stitches.  I’ll update you in a little while.

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Wish me luck….this adventure of mine cannot become a never-ending journey for me!  I have eight months until the wedding.  But just in case I do not get it finished in time, please…do not tell my niece and her fiance that I am doing this for them.

 

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Another Summer, another CNUF!

 

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When I was working out of my home, I dreaded the beginning of August because it meant that work would be starting up in just a few weeks.  So long to relaxing at home, having late night Summer barbecues and just lazing around the house.  No, August meant it was time to do everything in and around the home during the Summer that never got looked at during the busy school year.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival has always been a highlight in the Summer.  My Man and I had so much fun at last year’s 50th celebration.  So much to see and so much to do.

Villagers from the Selo

Villagers from the Selo

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

However, this year, the 51st, was just not the same.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it was the fact that there was a fire in the Mall and the festival office was destroyed last year. Lots of great displays and priceless artifacts are gone.  Is that why they had so many competitions?  Perhaps it was the lack of participants in these events like the pysanky and kolach demonstrations.  Perhaps it had something to do with the organising committees.  Lots of new faces.

Now I’m not knocking the fact that everyone tried their best and many people worked very hard at this festival.  There was something missing however.  I’m actually quite concerned that there are not enough “old timers” involved in steering the direction that the festival now seems to be taking.

Now don’t get me wrong either.  Encouraging a younger executive and board members to get involved is good if you want to keep this half century old festival going.  New blood is needed as some would say.  However, there appears that not enough people involved really understand what it was like to come to Canada so many years ago and start-up a new life.

I do hope that the Board of Directors and the City realise that pioneers and their stories of their struggles are needed at the festival to keep the spirit of the Ukrainian culture at the centre.  People travelled many miles and had to work together to clear the land, build homes and support one another through some very harsh times.  Working together and team work was essential back then.  It’s needed now for the festival as well.

Pioneer barn

I wish the people of Dauphin and especially the CNUF organization all the best because I want to be able to attend the 75th CNUF celebration.

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Ukrainian Easter

Easter commemorates the resurrection of Christ.

Easter matins begins with the ringing of the church bells on Saturday at midnight. The resurrection church service begins with a procession around the outside of the church. The church lights are dimmed, symbolizing the closed tomb of Christ. The priest leads the procession and circles the church three times. This is also symbolic of the journey that the myrrh-bearing women took during the early hours on Easter Sunday morning. When the women recognize the Saviour, the church bells began to ring.

The priest will greet the worshippers with the traditional words “Xристос Воскрес” (Christ is Risen) and they will respond with “Воістину Воскрес” (He is indeed Risen). The church doors are open and the Easter service will proceed.  Most churches today do not have the service on the Saturday night.

At my church, Easter Sunday service is preceded by the blessing of the Easter basket. The Easter basket contains specially prepared foods that include hard-boiled eggs, meat products such as ham and garlic sausage, butter, cheese (cottage cheese, cheddar, etc.), fresh horseradish, a shaker of salt, traditional breads that include paska and baba, as well as the beautifully decorated pysanky. It is a custom to exchange the colourful eggs with the Easter greeting.

Triangles on eggs symbolize trios such as air, fire and wind, and most recently the Holy Trinity.

Triangles on eggs symbolize trios such as air, fire and wind, and most recently the Holy Trinity.

Bread to Ukrainians is one of the holiest of all foods. Two types traditionally found in the Easter basket are paska and baba.  Paska is a large, round loaf made of white flour, usually decorated with a cross at the centre along with other ornamentation such as rosettes or pine cones. At the time of the blessing, a candle is placed in the centre of the paska representing Christ, “the light of the world.” Paska means passover, as in Christ’s passing over from death to life.

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The baba is cylindrical in shape and is a rich cake bread. Its name is considered by some to mean “blessed mother”. Both breads are meant to remind Ukrainians of the true “living bread” that nourishes the soul.

Immediately after the church service, the worshippers will return home to share the Easter breakfast of blessed food.

Христос Воскрес!

 

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