A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Archive for Elena Alexandrovna

Paskha, the Russian Easter

Like in many European Catholic countries, Paskha is a weeklong festival. For the very religious, there are church ceremonies beginning a week in advance, but the most important days are the last four: Great Thursday (also known as “Clean Thursday,” because this day is dedicated to a thorough spring cleaning), Friday of the Passion, Great Saturday, and finally Paskha itself on Sunday. For some, Saturday is a fast day, broken after the Paskhal vigil church service, which ends at midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning. After that, the Paskha feast can begin!

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Cultural differences

I read an English folk tale, translated into Russian, with Elena Alexandrovna the other day. A poor couple is granted three wishes. They argue all night over what to wish for, and finally agree to sleep on it and decide in the morning. Exhausted, the wife declares that she wishes they had a sausage to eat. Sure enough, the sausage appears on the table. The husband, enraged at his wife’s stupidity, shouts that he wishes that the sausage would stick to her nose. As expected, the sausage attached itself to her face, and no amount of pulling could remove it. Both shamed by their carelessness, they finally concede their third wish and ask for the sausage to detatch from her nose. It does. Although they end up no richer than before the wishes, they learn a valuable lesson.

“You know, we have a Russian version of that tale,” Elena Alexandrovna observed.

“We do, as well,” I agreed, thinking of all our be careful what you wish for stories. “What’s the Russian variant?”

“Davnim davno…” she began.

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East vs West

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December advertisement featuring Valeriy Konovalyuk, a member of the Party of Regions, which has strong ties to Russia. The sign reads:

“Issue at stake: NATIONAL IDEA
Valeriy Konovalyuk
Farewell, arms!
Farewell, NATO!
National idea:
A new Ukraine-
Without the right to mistakes”

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