Agrarian or Calendar Rituals

Rituals connected with the calendar year were originally based on agrarian concerns such as the proper day to plow, to sow, and to reap. Other examples are the day on which cattle should first be taken out to pasture or beehives set outside. Ukrainian calendar year holidays assumed a religious overlay with the introduction of Christianity and are now associated with saints. The day when cattle go out to pasture is St. George’s Day, for example. Most holidays in the calendary cycle occur on the same date each year. Some, like Easter and Trinity Sunday, are calculated from the solstices and equinoxes and their dates vary. Some holidays are relatively new and commemorate historical events. An example is Victory Day which marks the end of the Second World War.

So far we have documented the holiday connected to the summer solstice and St. John the Baptist. It is called Ivan Kupalo. The celebration of Ivan Kupalo takes place in the evening. People gather by a river, a lake, or another body of water and build a bonfire. We have two videos of Ivan Kupalo festivals we made in 2001.

We have also photographed the late summer holiday called Spas. Spas refers to Christ the Savior. The holiday also celebrates the harvest and there are three such days: Makovyi Spas to celebrate the poppy harvest, Iablochnyi Spas to celebrate the harvest of fruits, and Medovyi Spas to celebrate the harvest of honey.

Yanina Vihovska visited her home village of Pidhaitsi over Christmas and New Year 2009-2010 to film winter festivals. She made many movies and describes the festivities she attended.