Malanka - PhMuseum

Malanka

Alessandro Vincenzi

2014 - 2015

Malanka is a Ukrainian and Romanian traditional festival with unknown origin thousands of years old, probably pre -Christian times.

Malanka is celebrated for the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar that corresponds to the night between the 13th and 14th of January.

Although it’s known as a pagan festival in rural areas of Ukraine, is becoming popular even in big cities like Chernivsti, capital of the homonymous region. Krasnoilsk, Crasna in Romanian, in southwest Ukraine close to the border with Romania, is undoubtedly one of the towns that best preserve this tradition.

The celebration is held in honor of Malanka, a young woman of unknown identity with an extraordinary ability. It’s believed to represent Santa Melania, a Roman martyr, suggesting that the Malanka was born as a pagan festival that was "adjusted" to a Christian ritual.

In the village of Krasnoilsk there are five districts and everyone organizes his own Malanka, consisting of 20 to 30 costumes and a commander, who manages and coordinates the development of the costumes.

The main characters are the Bear and the Gypsy, the Old Man and the Old Woman, the King and Queen and the Jew. Even for costumes is very difficult to know the origin and meaning.

On the afternoon of January 13 the commander's house is the meeting point where the Malanka celebrate with a feast prepared by the women of his family. Around 9 pm, the commander gives the signal to start the march from house to house, which lasts until the following night. At the end of the afternoon of January 14, the Malanka proceeding from every district, gather on the main road to meet up in the town square.

Although the Soviets tried to annihilate any popular festival, Malanka has endured over the decades gaining in popularity. In recent years women have joined the celebration interpreting some of the characters.

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  • Early morning in Krasnoilsk.

  • Commander's grand mother cleaning the cabbage to prepare a traditional Ukrainian cabbage rolls filled with rice and meat, that will be served the night that the Malanka will start.

  • Young ladies preparing ukrainian traditional meatballs called Kotlecky in the commander's house to be ready for the beginning of Malanka.

  • At the edge of Krasnoilsk village where the forest starts, animals can graze and men can collect wood for heating their houses.

  • An Old Woman and three Jews are dancing on the roof of a house during the celebration of Malanka in Krasnoilsk, while the rest of the group is in the yard under them.

  • The Bear, a traditional costume of Malanka Festival. The look of the costume could vary between a ball, an heart or a wing depending on the district where is made it. In this case it's a "modern" costume which could be white or black.

  • A group of people led by a Jewish mask is walking across the streets of Krasnoilsk early morning on the 14th of January.

  • While the Malanka is going from district to district in the main square of Krasnoilsk some people are preparing attractions for spectators.

  • Some costumes, like Bears and Jews are taking rest in the early morning of the 14th of January after having celebrated all night.

  • At the edge of Krasnoilsk village where the forest starts, animals can graze and men can collect wood for heating their houses.

  • The Malanka started in the Commander's house and will continues until the night of the next day.

  • Cabbage in the commander's house. It is used to prepare cabbage rolls filled with rice and meat, a traditional dish which will be served the night that the Malanka begin.

  • Two Gipsy and a Bear are taking rest the 14th in the afternoon after almost 24 hours of celebration.

  • The Bear, a traditional costume of Malanka Festival. The look of the costume could vary between a ball, an heart or a wing depending on the district where is made it. In some cases can reach 80-90Kg.

  • Kings are parading down the main street of Krasnoilsk.
    Malanka it was kind of forbidden for ladies due to the difficulty and hardness of the festival. Only since few years women started to take part on it.


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