A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Archive for yolka

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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Hanukkah

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Hanukkah in Dnepropetrovsk isn’t too different from Hanukkah in the States, really. We light the chanukkiah each night and say the brachot. We eat latkes and suvganiot (although here, suvganiot are much more popular than in the US, since “ponchiki,” as they’re called in Russian, are already a popular fried dessert). We sing songs and spin the dreidle, and although I didn’t see any gelt, I did see some Israeli dreidles that say “A great miracle happened here” instead of there.

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My very own yolka!

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She’s little, but she’s still beautiful. As you can see, she’s a Christmas tree, except for the fact that there is no “Christmas” around here as we think of it in the States. New Year’s is Christmas and New Year’s, all rolled into one, but secular (there’s a religious holiday a week later, but really New Year’s is the big deal). Every family gets a yolka, whether Christian, Jewish, or other. I bought mine on Karl Marx Prospect (the main road of Dnepropetrovsk) off a street vendor for 20 grivnas (about $3). She’s really too small to decorate, but she fits nicely in my apartment, and she’s bringing me New Year’s cheer!