Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ukrainian Christmas Customs: A Documentary From 1942

For those who follow the Julian Calendar, today is the Leave-taking of the Theophany in the Byzantine Rite. “Leave-taking” (ἀπόδοσις in Greek, ѿданїє in Old Church Slavonic) is broadly the equivalent of an octave day in the Roman Rite, but the period which it concludes, called the After-feast, varies in length from feast to feast. (That of the Theophany is eight days, but those of the Birth and Presentation of the Virgin are only four.) This is as good an occasion as any to share this delightful documentary made in 1942 about the various customs of what many still call “Ukrainian Christmas,” customs brought to the New World by immigrants to Canada, both Catholic and Orthodox. Although it doesn’t show much of the liturgy, it covers a lot of religious and folk traditions associated with the liturgical season. (My thanks to an old and dear friend, Fr Athanasius McVay, a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest of the Eparchy of Edmonton, Canada, for bringing this to my attention.)

There is also a second film in the same vein, from a year later, which covers many different aspects of the life of these communities. The first half is about pioneer life and farming, but starting from about 6:50, it talks about the various religious institutions founded by the Ukrainians in Canada.

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