Cossack Village “Mamaieva Sloboda” Hosts Traditional Celebration of Epiphany in Kyiv
Kyiv, January 20, 2012. One of the biggest traditional holidays in Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Epiphany (coincides with baptism of Jesus), took place at Mamaieva Sloboda, - a complete replica of a historical Ukrainian Cossack village. The historical center often hosts gatherings of modern day Cossack men. It was designed to mimick the natural environment, architecture and lifestyle of the ancient warriors - cossacks, who once lived in Ukraine. The holiday gathered hundreds of visitors who enthusiastically participated in the renowned traditional bathing ceremony (a form of christening in holy water), and enjoyed the variety of traditional Cossack dishes while watching and participating in the old Ukrainian folk dances.
The celebration of Epiphany takes place on January 19, which marks the baptism of Jesus in the Orthodox Church. It is believed that on this day, all water becomes holy and possesses special healing powers. Symbolically, people washed away their sins in this holy water by jumping into a bitingly frigid yet blessed water. “It might be hard to believe, but after you dip yourself into the freezing water you feel very hot once you get out. Surprisingly, such an extreme treatment is said to be very healthy for you,” explains Liudmyla Stoliarchuk, the director of the Tourist Department at the Cossack Village Mamaieva Sloboda. Liudmyla also jumps into the ice-capped water every year.
The numbing water not only provides one with a spiritual meaning and an intense health surge, but also carries an emotional experience with the succeeding warmth of traditional dances. This year’s event was conducted in 18 degree weather (Fahrenheit), the Cossacks continued the celebration, flexing their muscles in the challenging game Lava na Lavu, which is something like breaking the human chain. The game takes place between the two groups of players. Each team lines up, strongly linking arms. The objective of the game is for each line of players to run into each other, minding the head and everything below the belt, and break through the opposing team's chain. “So, listen up! Here are the rules. Don’t hit in the forehead with your fist and don’t hit below the belt. You sock them only in the chest and the winner will be the team breaking the defense of the opposing team,” shouted the Cossack who was the head game maker.
“Today we celebrate like our ancestors have been many, many years ago. And just in a second... just in a second you will see the battle of the two teams of Cossacks competing for the main prize of Epiphany - and of course they will have a lot of drinks and lots of kisses from the girls,” said Liudmyla Stoliarchuk.
Mamaieva Sloboda is an open-air museum that occupies 23 acres. It is located a few miles from Kyiv’s main avenue Khreshchatyk. The enthralling feature of the museum is that visitors may observe the exact replica of a historical Cossack village so as to obtain a better understanding of the lifestyle, traditions, and culture of our most renowned Ukrainian warriors.