Surrey’s Ukrainian community will celebrate Malanka in a much different way this year.
The folk holiday, observed on Jan. 13 as New Year’s Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar, is typically a time for get-togethers, but not so during B.C.’s current COVID-related restrictions.
Instead, members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary will host a virtual fundraiser, on Saturday, Jan. 16.
Tickets for last year’s Malanka event were $65 per person, and this year’s virtual event is priced at less than half that amount: $30. Donations are also “highly appreciated and help our church survive.”
Those who tune in “can dress up with glitz and glamour, or choose to stay comfy in warm pyjamas in the comfort and security of your own home,” event organizers suggest. “No need to worry about road conditions, parking or choosing a designated driver. Your menu will be the favourite dishes that you prepare for yourself. We’ll send you a link to a playlist and you can dance to all the songs, or just the ones that get your toes tapping.”
While most of the western world adheres to the Gregorian calendar, which was established in 1582, many Ukrainians still recognize the holidays of the much older Julian calendar.
Malanka celebrates the feast day of St. Melania, when carolers went from home to home with a man dressed in women’s clothing performing a short play, playing pranks, merrymaking and singing “shchedrivky,” or carols of good wishes.
“But Malanka also has roots in ancient folklore when, according to legend, Malanka was the daughter of Mother Earth and personified spring,” organizers of the Surrey event say. “She was a captive of the winter darkness and the earth would remain frozen and barren until she was released from her captivity. To ensure a bountiful and prosperous new year, the night was spent dancing and partying.”
Meantime, the church group’s COVID-modified “Ukrainian Soul Food” dinners continue, with the next one scheduled for Friday, Jan. 29. The event sells “hot take-away dinners or items to stock up that freezer,” from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the hall in Whalley (13512 108th Ave.).