Ukrainian families were able to gather together and ring in the Orthodox new year this weekend in Red Deer.
The Kvitka Red Deer Canadian Ukrainian Dance Club hosted its first Malanka celebration since 2020 at Festival Hall on Saturday evening.
“The whole concept of Malanka is to have one last hurrah before lent starts,” explained Catherine Korenchuk, who has been president of the dance club for a few years.
“Everybody comes and parties and has a good time. We try to keep that culture going with dinner and Ukrainian dancers who do a performance. It showcases what they’re learning.”
Korenchuk said it was exciting to have a Malanka celebration for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In 2021 we had to cancel the event. We tried to plan it for 2022, but COVID affected those plans again that January,” she said.
“We were going to do a Malanka in May, but we cancelled that one because of the war in Ukraine. We decided to not do that because everybody’s attention was on that.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, about 500 displaced Ukrainians have come to live in the Red Deer area.
“We hope this (Malanka celebration) will be exciting for them. We’ve tried to keep the culture alive for them because things are very different right now in their lives,” said Korenchuk.
Father Jim Nakonechny, of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church, served as the emcee for the evening. Korenchuk said after the dancers were finished performing, Nakonechny would provide a new year’s blessing with the children.
Nakonechny is also the chair of the Ukrainian Displaced Persons Planning Committee, which has brought about 100 Ukrainians to the Red Deer area.
Earlier this month, St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church hosted a Ukrainian Christmas supper on Jan. 6 for families that have come to Canada to escape the war in their home country.
The final day of the Christmas season, the Feast of Jordan is scheduled for Jan. 19.