Sask. Ukrainians get festive for Orthodox New Year's Eve

Ukrainian communities all over Saskatchewan will be celebrating Orthodox New Year’s Eve on Saturday.

Traditional events ring in 2018 according to the Julian calendar

Regina's Chaban Ukrainian Dance is hosting a party at the Conexus Art Centre on Saturday night. (Facebook/Chaban Ukrainian Dance of Regina)

Ukrainian communities all over Saskatchewan will be celebrating Orthodox New Year's Eve on Saturday.

Jan. 13, which marks the end of the year according to the Julian calendar, has been celebrated historically in Ukraine as Malanka and that tradition continues among Ukrainian descendants in the province.

Barb Rasmussen is president of Chaban Ukrainian Dance, which is hosting a party at the Conexus Arts Centre in Regina for the occasion.

The family-oriented event will be the second New Year's Eve celebration of the year for most participants, who also observe the Dec. 31 celebration, she said.

"Here's a great opportunity to take part in the cultural part of it. Everything from the music, the food, the dancing, the party.… It really showcases history that we're really, really proud of within our communities," said Rasmussen.

"It kind of continues creating the legacy."
Music and dancing are a big part of celebrating Malanka. (Facebook/Chaban Ukrainian Dance of Regina)

Rasmussen said the evening will start with a processional, where people will give thanks for the year.

There will be performances before and after the meal, including the highly anticipated Kolomeyka. For that dance, people will gather around in a circle and take turns showcasing their moves.

"They basically give it their best shot and you'll see some really amazing, fun, energetic performances," Rasmussen said.

A sold-out Malanka event is also taking place at the Regina Performing Arts Centre. 

A piece of home in Canada

Kseniya Romanenko grew up in Ukraine and moved to Regina a few years ago. She now works at the local Ukrainian Co-op.

Back home, she said her family would celebrate New Year's Eve on Dec. 31, Ukrainian Christmas Eve on Jan. 6 and Malanka on Jan. 13. She said the party continues for most of the month.

"People in January in the Ukraine, they don't work," Romanenko said, laughing. "They just celebrate, eat, eat and eat."

Kseniya Romanenko, on right, with her family, says she was surprised that people in Saskatchewan celebrate traditional Ukrainian holidays. (Submitted to CBC by Kseniya Romanenko)

When she first moved to Saskatchewan, she said she was surprised to see that traditional Ukrainian holidays are celebrated here as well.

Now, people often come to the store to ask her for tips on cooking the right meals each night. She said helping people learn about the traditions is a treat.

One day, Romanenko said she hopes to return to her home country so her children can experience it.

"My heart still belongs to Ukraine, even though I love Canada," she said.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend