Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Federal judge to speak on Ukraine situation

The monthly membership meeting of the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, headed by Daria Tomashosky of North Port, will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as the “Oseredok”). This is a change from the traditional meeting day of Wednesday.
The Honorable Bohdan A. Futey, a federal judge now serving on senior status for the U. S. Court of Federal Claims, will be the guest speaker. His topic will be “Two years after the Revolution of Dignity— Strengths and Weaknesses,” an overview of the progress and the current situation in Ukraine.

Judge Futey’s presentation will follow a brief business meeting.
All are invited to the meeting and to hear Judge Futey’s presentation. There is no admission fee.

The Board of Directors of the club met last Monday at the Oseredok, chaired by President Daria. It reviewed recent activities (the Christmas party, “Kolyada”, et al), and discussed plans of activities for the next several months, including the Scholarship Fundraiser Luncheon tentatively scheduled for April 12 at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club, art exhibit (date, place and other details to be determined at a later date), the club’s charitable activities and planned social activities.

President Daria announced the club’s nominating committee consisting of Ihor W.Hron of Osprey, Oksana Lew of Venice and Klara Szpiczka of North Port.

The 97th anniversary of the unification of two states, Ukrainian National Republic and West Ukrainian National Republic, into one Ukrainian National Republic on Jan. 22, 1919, was celebrated in Ukraine and in all Ukrainian communities throughout the world.
In Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, in addition to many parades and commemorative concerts, a live chain across the Dnieper River was created in honor of the unification and in commemoration of a live chain with nearly 3 million taking part 25 years ago, stretching from L’viv and Ivano-Frankivsk to Kyiv.

The North Port and Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community commemorated the historic eventat the assembly last Sunday at the Oseredok.

The event was sponsored by “Hromadskyi Komitet” (Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American Organizations) headed by Romana Harasymiak-Guran, who opened the ceremony and introduced master of ceremonies Dr.Orest Bilous of Osprey, who introduced Lidiya Mychalowych (who recited the poem “Bells in Ukraine”), Ostap Macielinski (who recited the moving “Poem from Maydan”) and the United Choir under the direction of Lubow Ingram of Venice, which sang “O Ukraine,” “Oy u Luzi ...,” a historic song that was a favorite of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen of World War I — which the public always listens to while standing with respect — and the hymn-prayer “O Great and Only God.”
The guest speaker, introduced by Dr.Bilous, was Vira Andrushkiw, vice president of the U.S.Ukraine Foundation and chair of the Detroit Regional Council of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, whose topic was “Independence and Unification of Lands,” a comprehensive and professionally presented historic overview of world events affecting Ukraine since the start of WWI.

Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ukraine’s unification to be commemorated

At 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as the “Oseredok”), 4100 S.Biscayne Drive, North Port, there will be a concert commemorating the 97th anniversary of the unification of all Ukrainian lands into one independent Ukrainian National Republic. The event is being sponsored by the “Hromadskyi Komitet” (Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American Clubs and Organizations), headed by Romana Harasymiak-Guran of Venice.

The Act of Unification joined two heretofore separate Ukrainian states into one. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming forces of Russian Communists, as well as the so-called Russian “White Armies” supported by western powers, as well as attacks by neighboring countries, the truly democratic Ukrainian National Republic eventually became, for many years, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, a de facto colony of Communist Russia, until Aug. 24, 1991.

The one-year anniversary of the “Battle of Donetsk Airport,” described by author Peter Dickinson of Business Ukraine Magazine as the “Ukrainian Alamo,” was observed in Ukraine on Sunday.
Peter Dickinson’s article about the Battle of Donetsk Airport includes the following: “After over 240 days of defiant and againstall- odds defense, the airport finally fell to the combined Russian-separatist forces. Dozens of Ukrainian defenders died in the last days of the battle … By this stage, the airport itself was an uninhabitable lunar landscape, reduced to ruin by some of the most intense fighting witnessed in Europe since the fall of Nazi Berlin in 1945.

“Much as the doomed 19th century defenders of the Alamo have come to be seen as flag bearers of America’s national identity, the Cyborgs of Donetsk Airport are destined to be icons of the new Ukraine,” Dickinson wrote.

“Heroes never die!” is the common expression of modern Ukrainians.

The annual membership meeting of Branch 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, commonly called “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian Ladies), headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center, 1078 N. Biscayne Drive, North Port.

The very successful Christmas/New Year/ Epiphany social, held earlier this month, will be discussed, and Roxolana (Lana) Yarymovych of Osprey, who chaired the event committee and was responsible for the superb organization of the event and for the exemplary cooperation of the committee members, will be thanked again for her efforts.

Her name was inadvertently omitted in last week’s description of the event.

The participation of Branch 56 members in the “christening” of the recently formed new branch of Soyuz Ukrayinok in Naples on Jan. 31 also will be discussed.

The first in several years traditional “Malanchyn Vechir” (Melanie’s Evening”), or simply “Malanka,” held Jan. 13 at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center, was a successful affair, with delicious refreshments, food and desserts, music and dancing. The event was advertised as open to all, and the result was an attendance of many nonparishioners. All had a wonderful time and at midnight toasted the beginning of “old new year” 2016, according to the “old” Julian calendar.

Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at
Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

‘Malanka’ and the ‘old’ new year

After several years of omission due to a lack of organizers, the traditional “Malanchyn Vechir” (Melanie’s evening), or simply “Malanka,” commemorating the feast day of St. Melanie (383-439 A.D.), will take place tonight at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Parish Center. It will start at 9 p.m., and end at 1 a.m.
Thursday. There will be food, refreshments, singing and dancing, plus some surprises. 

This is just a variation from the customary observances of Malanka in Ukraine. 

These observances in Ukraine are more than a dinner/dance and a few hours of socialization. In Ukraine, groups of carolers wander, singing carols from house to house all night, and when invited into the house they wish the residents health and prosperity, recite special verses and sing more carols. 

When visiting relatives’ or close neighbors’ homes after midnight or early in the morning on Jan. 14, it is customary to throw some wheat grains on the floor and recite a special short verse wishing the homeowners a healthy and prosperous year — a custom almost completely abandoned outside of Ukraine. Jan.14 is known as the “old” new year, because it is Jan. 1 according to the “old” Julian calendar.
The Christmas/New Year/Epiphany social of the North Port branch of “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian Ladies), held Friday at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center was a resounding success. Over 110 members and their guests enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres, a tasty buffet dinner and popular home-baked pastry with coffee. 

Many expressions of thanks and admiration to the culinary staff, consisting mostly of the executive board members, and especially for Christyna Sheldon, were spoken. 

New members who joined the branch during 2015 were introduced, and a choir of female carolers led by Lieda Boyko, who carried the Christmas star, marched into the hall singing Ukrainian carols. Not to be outdone, a male choir was quickly organized by Orest Bilous to sing a special version of carols glorifying the culinary staff and all the organizers of the event. 

President Ann-Marie Susla made two announcements: The annual membership meeting of the branch will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 26 at the Parish Center, and the “christening” of the new Soyuz Ukrayinok branch in Naples will take place Jan. 31 in Naples, to which all are invited.
On Tuesday, the two local Ukrainian American congregations, Catholic and Orthodox, will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptizer. The celebrations include special divine liturgies in both churches, St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s, to be followed by the blessing of water outside the churches, weather permitting.
The blessed “Jordan water” is believed to have miraculous healing powers. 

Parishioners and guests take this water home and, after sprinkling some on their homes or apartments, preserve it until the following year. 

In my youth in Ukraine it was a well-known fact that some Jews had asked their Ukrainian neighbors to share the water with them.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Jesus’ birthday celebrated with special meal, services, caroling

Most Ukrainian Christians, Greek-Catholics and Orthodox in Ukraine, and many in the United States and Canada, will observe a strict fast today and in the evening will gather at family tables to partake in a special meal known as “Svyata Vecherya” (holy supper), traditionally consisting of 12 meatless courses, including the traditional “kutya” (pudding-like concoction of wheat grains, honey and poppy seeds), varenyky (pierogies) and “holubtsi” (cabbage rolls without hamburger meat).

My loving wife Katrusia had faithfully prepared and served these traditional meals for our family and usually two or three invited single individuals without family as guests for 60 years, until she became too ill three years ago. This year Katrusia and I will join other senior couples and individuals in the communal Holy Supper at our Parish Center after a 4 p.m. special service, “Velyke Povecherya” (Great Vespers) at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.

This church service and subsequent meal will usher in the celebration of the birthday of Jesus, which will continue Thursday (Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ), Friday (Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God), and Saturday (First Martyr Archdeacon Stephen), observed by most Ukrainians and some other Eastern Christians whose church calendar is known as Julian. The three days following theHoly Supper are devoted to church services with special segments of the divine liturgy (Mass) and caroling, and visiting relatives and friends. In most cities and towns in Ukraine these days are filled with groups of carolers re-enacting the event in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago and singing carols in public squares and in front of people’s homes
There will be no membership meeting of Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, usually held every first Friday of the month, because of the holidays.
The next meeting will take place at 3 p.m., Feb. 5 at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center, known as the “Oseredok.”
The local branch 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, known as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian Ladies) will have its traditional New Year/ Christmas/Epiphany holidays “Zustrich” (meeting) at 4 p.m., Friday in St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center. These holiday meetings consist of socializing, light refreshments and pastries, with a lot of storytelling and caroling. Each member is allowed to invite only one guest, a relative or a close friend.

Katrusia, a longtime member and former member of the “Uprava” (executive board), hopes to feel good enough to attend the event. She graciously invited me to accompany her. Having attended these meetings in the past, I am looking forward to attending this year, knowing that a good time will be had by all.
One week from today on Jan. 13, an annual dinner-dance known as “Malanchyn Vechir” (Melanie’s Evening) will take place at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish Center. It will start at 9 p.m. and end at 1 a.m. Jan. 14.
Tickets, at $15 per person, must be ordered in advance. For more information, call 941-426-7931.

“Malanka” is the Ukrainian version of Melanie, and Jan. 13 is St. Melanie’s Holiday, according to the church calendar.

Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Goodbye, 2015 — Welcome, 2016

Yes, the old year 2015 will come to an end tomorrow, and most Americans, as well as many other people throughout the world, will fill restaurants, clubs, and other meeting places to enjoy food and drinks while waiting for midnight to greet the arrival of 2016 with a champagne toast. Many, including my wife Katrusia and I, will stay at home and wait for the silvery ball to drop in New York’s Times Square on television, provided they, like I usually do, don’t fall asleep before this occurs. 
It is a pleasure for me and Katrusia to be able to wish all our children, grandchildren, great-granddaughters, other relatives in this country and in Ukraine, and all our neighbors and friends throughout the world a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year.
During my childhood years before World War II, the New Year was only a date on the calendar: no celebration or formal observation whatsoever. The reason for this was quite simple: Residents of our nice and picturesque village Volya Yakubova (Jacob’s Freedom), in the Sub Carpathian Region of Western Ukraine were all Ukrainians, except for three Jewish families, and Greek-Catholics. New Year’s Day fell during Advent, which lasted up to Jan. 6 and was traditionally observed as a fasting period with no dancing or any other “boisterous” celebration.
The Advent fasting continues to be observed by Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans to this day. There are neither weddings nor dances in what is commonly considered “The Ukrainian Community” in the United States and Canada. 

During the Russian Communist occupation of Ukraine, the atheist Moscow occupiers did everything possible to eradicate the celebrations of religious holidays, especially Christmas and Easter
The massive executions and deportations of bishops, priests, and religious activists did not stop Ukrainian people from celebrating their beloved holidays. The authorities, in addition to forbidding the workers to take a day off for holidays, and penalizing students for participating in traditional holiday events, and other measures, began vigorously promoting the celebration of New Year, which included, among other things, the “New Year’s Tree” (replacing the Christmas tree) and “Grandfather Frost” (replacing the very popular St. Nicholas). 
After many years of this pressure and atheist propaganda, the celebration of New Year in Ukraine became more important and more widely accepted than the celebration of Christmas.
After the collapse of the USSR and restoration of Ukraine’s independence — on Aug. 24, 1991 — the traditional observance of Christmas and other religious holidays came back to life, with Christmas Eve supper consisting of 12 meal courses, public caroling, “vertep” (special Christmas plays originated centuries earlier by students of Ukrainian institutions of higher learning), and beautiful church services.
Nevertheless, the celebration of New Year continues to be very popular, with the “New Year’s Tree,” family gatherings, good food and champagne toasts at midnight.
The weddings and dance parties commence on Jan. 14 on “St.Melanie Day,” known to Ukrainians as “Malanka.”
The local Ukrainian Catholic congregation will hold its “Malanka Dance” on Jan. 14, in the Parish Center, 1978 N. Biscayne Drive, North Port.
More details to follow.

Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
 by Atanas Kobryn