Eight crazy nights, C’ Novum Godum and Ukrainian Christmas in a village

9 Jul

 

 

Well, one thing is certain: Ukrainians know how to celebrate the Holidays. Really, from the amazing lights which trim the already very charming city streets in central Kiev and the Large ‘tree’ in Independence Square, to the lingering holiday meals punctuated with endless vodka toasts, they throw the full Ruach of the community behind these dark winter celebrations. I am a big big fan. It felt like my entire month of December revolved around celebration. As someone who enjoys event planning, I enjoyed this quiet a bit, and I would not hesitate to say that it was the best Hannukah I have had.

 Sushi and Chinese lantern party– This was a party put on by several organizations in the community for young adults. I had been in on the planning process of this party from the beginning, and though it was wildly interesting to see the planning process, I can’t say that I fully understood how it worked. In the end my role was making decorations, which wasn’t as large a role as I would have liked, but it was great to be part of the process anyway. With about 150+ attendants at a stylish sushi resturant in the city center, the party was a great success.

enjoying traditionalo Hannukah Sushi

The party crowd ready to launch some lanterns in the street

Chinese Lanterns!

*Fact:

wordpress photo softwear+me= bad news, can anyone help??

very pleased

The highlight of the evening was certainly when the majority of the 150 guests made their way from the restaurant to the street to light off Chinese lanterns.  I was reminded starkly of the American cultural biases, in particular an extreme regard for saftey and liability awareness, I bring, as I squirmed and cringed as the guests set fire to their tissue paper lanterns and lit them into the air.   Some didn’t make it all the way to the sky, getting caught in trees and the nearby construction site full of flammable things near by. It was great fun, and something I can be sure would not fly in an American situation.


Various other Hannukah Celebrations- In addition to the celebrations I was part of planning, I attended many community celebrations including: the Brodsky Synagogue where they lit candle simultaneously with four other cities via skype. The Israeli Cultural center’s celebration at the local  very posh nightclub, D*Lux where they hosted the band the Shuk and about 800 guests came to dance, and the office Hannukah celebration where we participated in a city wide scavenger hunt and a celebration at a local restaurant they had rented out.

Beiteynu Teen celebration– This celebration really marked a turning point in my work with the teen club. Thanks to a fair amount of promotion and planning we had about 30 teens from Kiev and the surrounding area come for the Shabbat/ Hannukah festivities. The evening included a short Kabbalat shabbat, Hannukah trivia games, a large amount of ponchikies (Russian Sufganiot), and a really nice dinner.

Then came the New Year- 

Something I didn’t know until I came to Ukraine: Because all religion was illegal during the Soviet Union Christmas was not as widely celebrated, so instead New Years became their big winter staple. Insted of the western Christmas tree and Santa Claus, in the former Soviet countries they have Uncle frost and a New years tree, both of which are completely secular symbols of the season.

 They had a very large New years close to my apartment in Independence Square,   Nearly every person I spoke to in the city had an opinion about this tree. Personally I liked it, it was over-the top in the fashion I have become accustomed to things in Ukraine being. They love flair.

I welcomed the New Year with my New roomate Naomi, and my friend’s at the Mosihe House who hosted one great party. It was complete with a gift exchange, glitter and silly string, and enough indoor sparklers to make anyone uptight as me more than nervous.

Dancing the night away, Hellloooo 2012!

Luckily for me, because of something to do with the old Julian calendar, the fun didn’t stop with regular old ‘New New year’, but kept on rolling to Ukrainian Christmas, which is celebrated January 7. I was fortunate to get to be invited by my Peace Corps Volunteer friend, Jeremy Borovitz, to his village to celebrate the real way.  Only a short 3 hour Marshrutkah (small bus/vans straight out of the Soviet Union) ride out of Kiev we found ourselves welcomed by a very delicious meal cooked by Jeremy. This was all the more impressive because he has no running water and a questionable gas/stove situation.

From Jeremy’s we made his way to his neighbor’s home where they were seated to the traditional meal of 12 dishes (and many others). Though I managed to aquired food poisoning somewhere before arriving to the village, and spent the majority of the  evening rather ill, it was a great time and a great snapshot of the ‘real Ukraine’.  I also milked a goat and fed some chicken.

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