Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Round on St. Andrew's Day

The Ivan Honchar Museum in Kyiv is dedicated to traditional Ukrainian folk culture.  They have a full calendar of events that encourage and continue all sorts of traditions--including food.  They've recently started posting great photos in their Facebook albums-and the photo above made me email my friend Ihor Poshyvailo,  the deputy director there, to ask for an explanation about what to me, looked like a giant bagel!  He wrote back,
That giant bagel on a string is a kalyta - a ritual bread used in Andriy (Adrew) traditional feast - December 13. It symbolizes the sun (often made in a form of a circle, stars) and during the feast boys have to jump and bite it not smiling (other boys and girls are standing nearby trying to make him laugh). If smiling he is black marked on his cheek... It's a rudiment of ancient rites of passage...

Although this day celebrates St. Andrew, a patron saint of Ukraine, this and other rituals date back even further.    Many Ukrainian traditions stem from pre-Christian rites that were adapted for Christianity.  St. Andrew's Day was also a time for fortune-telling, particularly to predict a young woman's future spouse.  And food played a critical role in these activities as well.  A piece of loaf sprinkled with salt and placed under your pillow.  Your dreams that night would reveal your future husband while your homemade dumplings could also reveal who would be the first to be married!  For more information on those traditions, click here.

As the year turns at the cold winter solstice,  it's a great time to check out the beautiful photos by Bogdan Posyvailo  of summer celebrations on the Honchar Museum's Facebook page.
 All photos courtesy of the Ivan Honchar Museum

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