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Sunday, 7 July 2013


             Two special birthdays for July :

Happy Birthday to my niece, Tracey
(high school photo)

Gedo Leschyshyn


The Ivana Kupala Festival is celebrated in Ukraine on July 7.  Lonely Planet says that in pagan times “Kupala was the god of love and fertility and young people would choose a marriage partner on this eve.”

In 2004, Bryan, Nestor, Diana, and I joined a tour group, out of Saskatoon, and arrived in Kyiv on July 7. 

As we drove into the city I noticed people dressed for the festival but our tour director had made no plans to include it on our itinerary!  In fact, her idea was that we should all just go to bed.  (The tour director was a large young woman who could barely walk – she stumped along like an old white Shih Tzu.)

Nestor took charge.  First he scouted our bus driver who said he’d be very happy to drive the bus to the festival site on the river.  Pointing out that there were 2 tour buses, Nestor then announced that the other bus would take all the travel-weary tourists to the hotel while our bus would go to the festival.  J

Our fellow travellers were so timid, however, that we had to compromise.  It was agreed that we would leave the river by 9 pm.

Lonely Planet says the real place to see this festival is out in the country villages.

The festival begins with folk singing.

Boats on the river

The Kupala:  at the end of the evening she is set on fire:  unfortunately we missed this as it happens after 9 pm.

An offering for the Fire?



        Bohdan Zahny called it “Simple Soup”  (Prostanka Yushka)  but that’s misleading because this excellent soup has many different ingredients.

½ cup dry white beans
1 to 2 pounds pork ribs, cut up (enough so that each serving includes a rib)
12 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup pot barley
½ cup yellow split peas (called Muttor dal in the Indian food section)
1 chopped onion
4 diced celery stalks
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp black pepper
3 carrots, diced
3 small potatoes, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (about 7 mushrooms)

1.      Put beans in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by 2 or 3 inches.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.   Cover pot and remove from heat.  Leave to sit for 1 hour.  Drain and add to the large soup pot immediately after you have finished skimming.  (see step below)  Important:  Do not let beans sit in hot soak water for more than one hour as they may sour.

2.     Put ribs in a large soup pot and add all the water.  Bring to a boil and skim.
3.      Add the beans, peas, barley, onion, salt, black pepper, and celery.
4.     Simmer for one hour.   Add additional salt if needed.
5.     Add potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.