By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 18, 2024.
For most Canadians Jan. 1 marked the start of the new year, but for those following the Julian calendar the holiday celebrations comes a little later. Orthodox or Old New Year’s Eve falls on Jan. 13 and for local Ukrainians marks a celebration centred around dance, food, music, and community.
Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club is hosting their annual Malanka – New Years – event on Saturday at the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre and in honour of recent growth in their community are offering Ukrainian newcomers a discounted ticket rate to join in on the festivities.
“There are several Ukrainian newcomers in the city and, obviously, picking up, leaving your country, and coming to a new place is quite difficult,” says Anastasia Sereda, a dance instructor with Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club. “It’s made a little bit easier when you have groups celebrating events and cultural things that you would celebrate in your own country. So, we felt it would be a good idea to provide a discount to our Ukrainian newcomer friends so that they have a space to engage in their own cultural activities that they might have done elsewhere.”
The discount cuts the ticket price from $80 for a full entry which includes dance performances, a meal, and a social dance to $25 for those working to rebuild their lives after escaping the conflict zone. A third option exists for those interested in just attending the social dance and is $20 a ticket.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox church has declared a shift to celebrating the holidays according to the Gregorian calendar as is done in most of Europe and North America as to differentiate from Russia.
However, Sereda says, “it’s hard to change your cultural traditions,” adding, “one of the most important things to maintain Ukrainian culture and the nation is to continue to practice those significant cultural events and tell those cultural stories through art and language.”
As a result of the ongoing war, many Ukrainians have been forced to leave their country and seek safety elsewhere.
For some, that safety has been found in Lethbridge and the existing Ukrainian-Canadian community has been quick to respond, providing support and resources whenever possible. Sereda says there has been immense growth in the local community and as a result Troyanda has more members than ever before in its 29 years of operation.
“I think that when your identity or cultural identity is threatened that is a huge motivator to also practice dance,” says Sereda, sharing that some of her students danced in Ukraine before leaving and now feel dance is a comforting reminder of their home.
The night features Calgary-based band Absolute, a personalized shot glass station, and an online silent auction that is open to the public and has items from Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, as well as items such as gift certificates, traditional Ukrainian pattern dishes, and wine baskets.
“A lot of these events are mixed with Ukrainian-Canadian culture so it might be a little bit different. But still a lot of the dances and traditional stories that are told are rooted in Ukrainian Culture,” says Sereda.
Bidding for the silent auction is open until Saturday evening and those interested in participated are invited to visit https://www.32auctions.com/Malanka2024