A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Defender of the Fatherland Day

February 23 was a Soviet memorial holiday celebrating those soldiers who fell in World War II defending Russia against the Germans. Today it has become a sort of Men’s Day (to compliment Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8). Although many Ukrainians don’t celebrate this holiday, our office takes it very seriously and prepares an entire spectacle and feast for the men. The women transformed the office into a Ukrainian kolkhoz (a collective farm during Soviet times, basically a Soviet kibbutz).

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We all cooked different traditional Ukrainian dishes and set a very Ukrainian table. Here the pitcher, spoons, and napkins are very Ukrainian, as well as the food.

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The women all dressed up as traditionally as we could– we wore colorful skirts, traditional floral print shawls, hair ribbons, and colorful jewelry. Anya, shown in this picture, even had a traditional Ukrainian shirt.

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All the women (well, really except for me, because I don’t speak Ukrainian) wrote new lyrics about every man to the tune of a famous Ukrainian song, which we sang to them in Amir’s office.

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We then handed out the gifts– bubliki (the necklace of bagel-esque cookies you see me hanging around Stas’s neck) pickles, and vodka.

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You can see what we did to the label of each bottle. Here Seriozha is holding up his bottle of “Tkachoff” vodka (a combination of his last name, Tkach, and Nemiroff, the actual brand of the vodka), with a picture of him. The funniest one by far was “Amiroff” brand vodka.

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Once the ceremony had concluded, we went to the dining room to eat. As on most holidays and special occasions, we stayed at the table for a long time (about two hours, although if we didn’t have to work, we certainly would have stayed longer). We ate until we couldn’t stuff any more food down, toasted to the men and to everyone in the office, drank plenty of wine and vodka, and sang– mostly Ukrainian songs, but some Russian, too.

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1 Comment»

  AYID: Defender of the Fatherland Day « VodkaBlogger wrote @

[…] 2009 by VodkaBlogger Vodka plays a part in celebrating traditional holidays in the Ukraine, as A Year in Dnepropetrovsk explains: February 23 was a Soviet memorial holiday celebrating those soldiers who fell in World […]


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