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Festive Ukranian Cooking

Festive Ukranian Cooking

Marta Pisetska Farley
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Festive Ukranian Cooking
    Book Description:

    More than a cookbook,Festive Ukrainian Cookingis also a definitive account of traditional Ukrainian culture as perpetuated in family rituals and lovingly celebrated with elegantly prepared food and drink.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-8080-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xviii)

    The intentionof this book is to acquaint the reader with Ukrainian cuisine as it existed in the preindustrial era, and with modern variations on that cuisine. Ukrainian cooking embodies national and ethnic tastes and reflects the spiritual and social awareness of Ukrainians. This cookbook records these traditions and adapts the old recipes to modern use.

    I began with questions. Why do Ukrainians eat what they eat when they eat it? Why do Ukrainians like tart and textured dishes? Attempting to answer these questions led to an examination of Ukrainian traditional, religious, and familial feasts. Preindustrial folk celebrations focused on...

  2. I Traditional Feasts

    • 1 Christmas Eve
      (pp. 3-26)

      The traditionalyear for Ukrainians started with the great period of abstinence called Pylypivka (Advent). By fasting on certain days and restraining from dancing, Ukrainians prepared themselves for Christmas and its celebration. Until quite recently, Ukrainians celebrated the Christmas season from Christmas Eve (January 6, O.S.) to the Feast of Jordan (January 19, O.S.).

      The Birth of Christ (Rizdvo Khrystove) started the church calendar for Uniate and Orthodox Christians alike. As with many great feasts, the eve (navecherie) preceding the day marked the beginning of the celebration. Christmas Eve ended with Holy Supper (Sviata Vechera). However, there was much preparation...

    • 2 Christmas
      (pp. 27-36)

      Ukrainians areunrepentant bakers. The cold weather stimulates the invention or adaptation of yet another roll (knysh) or honey bread (medianyk). No celebration of Christmas is complete without specific cakes and cookies. During this season, baked goods of all types are featured. This chapter includes several "must" items: a spiced honey loaf (medivnykormedianyk), which may be a bread or cake; honey cookies (medianyky); thin wafers (oblaten) spread with a honey, nut, and egg white filling (nugat);¹ small turnovers of short dough (pyrizhky) with nut or poppy seed filling, glazed and sugared on top; a roll of sweet yeast....

    • 3 Easter
      (pp. 37-59)

      In the oldtraditions, spring and Eastertime in the Ukraine were regarded as a new beginning. Spring’s arrival was marked by the return of the songbirds. For the feast of the Forty Martyrs, March 22 (O.S.), girls traditionally baked pastry birds and set them out on windowsills to entice the birds to stay.

      At this time, spring preparations took place. Most evident was the thorough cleaning of the village. All debris was removed and burned, both cleansing the settlement and releasing the pent-up energies of the villagers. Each home was whitewashed, painted, decorated with delicate folk motifs, and prepared for...

    • 4 First Sunday After Easter
      (pp. 60-71)

      In every parishin pre-Soviet Ukraine, the Sunday after Easter was celebrated with the congregation’s visit to the cemetery and a communal repast. This was the time to commemorate the dead, a cult that flourished in the Ukraine’s pagan past. Much was retained from this period and was incorporated into Christian ritual.

      At the cemetery, a wooden chapel housed all the necessaries: utensils, candles, tables, ovens, and hearths. Its main room was decorated with icons donated by members of the village. The icons, draped withrushnyky(embroidered ritual cloths), were the chapel's aesthetic and religious focus. Here many communal activities...

    • 5 Feast of Saint George
      (pp. 72-77)

      Ukrainian cuisinerose out of the earth, was earth- and hearth-centered. A new planting season, marked by the feast of Saint George, was celebrated by ritualized sharing of food. The feast of the patron of spring, Saint George (known as Iuri in the Ukraine, Jerzy in Poland, Juraj in Yugoslavia, and Georgii in Russia), was commemorated on May 6 (O.S.). Of course, Saint George was world-famous for his “sally with the dragon,” but Ukrainians revered him for performing more direct services.

      There were variations on the celebration of Iura (as it was colloquially called) throughout the Ukraine. However, two responsibilities...

    • 6 Pentecost
      (pp. 78-84)

      Thisgreen festival,” a particular celebration of woods and meadows from the Ukrainian pagan past, probably became associated with Pentecost because both feasts were celebrated in the spring. Or maybe the symbolism of the descent of the Holy Spirit merged in the minds of early Ukrainian Christians with the commemoration of the spirits of the woods. The origin of the relationship is uncertain.

      This feast falls fifty days after Easter and is the official end of the Easter or spring cycle. In old Ukrainian custom, there was an order of action for the celebration. First, home and hearth were cleaned....

    • 7 Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
      (pp. 85-92)

      Traditionally, this feast, which falls on July 12 (O.S.), marked the height of summer in the Ukraine. Though both saints were given equal billing for this commemoration, the people colloquially called it Petra, thus "robbing" Paul.

      A very special celebration of this feast occurred in the Hutsul region, in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine. The high mountain plains were not suitable for farming, so sheep and cattle herding were principal livelihoods.

      On this holiday, the villagers of Carpathian Ukraine gave special thanks to the head shepherd and his assistants for keeping the communal flocks healthy and safe.¹ To celebrate...

    • 8 Feast of the Transfiguration
      (pp. 93-102)

      Summer culminatedwith the celebration of the feast of Christ's Transfiguration, or the folk feast of Spasa, August 19 (O.S.). The community celebrated the harvest of fruit, honey, and new grains. Special harvest wreaths braided from leavings in the wheat fields were used as decoration. These, with an assortment of fruit, honeycombs, and sheaves of grains, were taken to church for blessing. These offerings of gratitude for the bounty of the summer were then distributed among the less fortunate members of the community as well as used at home.

      Very traditional old people, according to documents written in the early...

    • 9 Feast of Saint Demetrios
      (pp. 103-113)

      By ancient tradition, the Ukrainian community was obligated to commemorate the souls of ancestors (pomenky) three times a year: on Provody the first Sunday after Easter, on Zeleni Sviata or Pentecost, and on the Saturday before the feast of Saint Dmytro or Demetrios.¹ The main difference between the first two commemorations and the last was that Dmytra was celebrated not at the cemetery but at home with a supper that started at dusk and lasted into the night.

      It was believed that the souls of the family’s departed members would help safeguard the family’s fortunes. The souls of the dead...

    • 10 Feasts of St. Catherine and St. Andrew
      (pp. 114-122)

      Traditionally, late fallwas free from major field work in the Ukraine. The harvest was in, preparations for Pylypivka (the Advent fast) had begun. The two feasts, Kateryny i Andriia, one following on the heels of the other, were opportunities for young people to become better acquainted. And this was carried out in prescribed fashion.¹

      Vechernytsi(evening socials) were sponsored by the young unmarried women as well as the young men. These formally organized events took place in a home with a gracious hostess called thepani-matka. The young women’s leader was calledotamansha; the men’s equivalent,otaman. The men...

  3. II Family Celebrations

    • 11 Weddings
      (pp. 125-141)

      For Ukrainians, fall consisted of August, September, and October. (November belonged to winter.) After the whirl of harvest and the last sowing of winter grains (around the first of September), heavy field work was over, and there was time to enjoy the earth’s bounty. Traditionally, fall was the time for family and community feasts.

      Fall was one of the major seasons for courtship and weddings; the other was directly after Christmas. An old custom cast an amusing light on these two periods and suggested how family peace was maintained. A young married couple was obligated to entertain the bride’s mother...

    • 12 Name Days
      (pp. 142-176)

      In the Ukraine, name day celebrations overshadowed birthday celebrations. One’s name day simply was the day of the saint whose name one bore, or sometimes the day on which one was named. Traditionally, at baptism, a child was given the name of the saint whose day was closest to the child’s birthday. The hope was that the child would adopt some of the virtue and strength of the saint, and emulate him by example. Saints were traditional role models, so to speak. Sometimes parents consented, then called the child by a more “exotic” variation, or by a derivative. Thus, Oksana...

    • 13 Gathering Wild Mushrooms
      (pp. 177-188)

      According to many Ukrainians, the best part about fall is that it isthemushroom season. Of course, it is wild mushrooms that are under discussion here. These varied and delectable fungi are truly gifts of the gods.¹ For many Ukrainians, it is a toss-up whether hunting the wild mushroom or eating it is more pleasurable. Mushroom gathering is an occasion when the generation gap is greatly reduced. Often grandparents or great-uncles serve as excellent teachers and guides.

      Martin Cruz Smith describes this “hunting” mentality in Gorky Park:

      Rain magically brought from dry ground new grass, flowers, and almost overnight,...