Sunday, 5 January 2014

Calgary Rizdvo 2014

The Ukrainian Idea thrives on ritual, tradition and faith, and bridges connections with family, homeland, identity and ancestry.  The faithful of Ukrainian Calgary join with the entire Ukrainian diaspora in celebrating the Nativity of Christ this January 6th and 7th, 2014 at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Volodymyr in Calgary, 404 Meredith Road NE.

Ukrainians the world over honor the December 25th Christmas as well, with Christmas trees, possibly a turkey supper, and probably a visit from Santa Claus, gifts decorated with red and white candy canes, and of course a feeling of civic unity with the innumerable people of diverse culture who await light and peace in the dark of winter.  But Orthodox Christians, whether they are Ukrainian, or of other ethnic origins have stayed on the old calendar - and it actually feels good.  And there are a lot of us!

The December hustle and bustle is over.  The non-God carols in the mall have faded, and Jingle Bells is a faint memory.  And in my home, like in many others, the three braided kolachi breads which are to be my Holy Eve centerpiece are baked.  The varenyky, and holubtsi are prepared.  Beans and other legumes are on the counter, awaiting their turn at the stove.  The ingredients for borsch are finding their place near the cooking pot.  Wheat has been pounded to remove the bran, and will soon head for the boiling pot, too.  In short, a meal of twelve lenten foods will soon be ready for the Holy Eve- Sviat Vechir  - to mark Rizdvo.  My family will gather around the table, and sing the prayers of old, softly, with no commercial jingalings to jazz up the sound. The vertep, a manger scene will grace us with peaceful images of a cave, where the lowly animals warmed a place for the baby, a place where Hope was born.  My family will speak softly, and reverently. A deep and filling peace will pervade the room when we remember the loved ones not with us anymore.  In this happy embrace of melancholia, tinged with hope, the ikon of peace will flicker.  What will be tomorrow?  We can only put forward one foot at a time, but we aim for the good.

Suspend time for a moment and notice the Bethlehem star.  It marks the transition from darkness to light! It's time to be exquisitely alive and passionately engaged with Hope - the gift of the season!

May the pure love of Christmas reign in your hearts this Rizdvo 2014!  Good health, happy times, peaceful dreams full of hope, optimism and joyous fulfillment to you and yours! Khrystos Razhdayetsia!

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