I don’t think we could ever get sick of waking up to the views and fresh air of the Carpathian Mountains.
We started off Wednesday by heading to the bazaar in Kosiv. The bigger bazaar is on weekends only, so we didn’t get the chance to check that out, but we still had plenty of fun, and spent plenty of hyrivnia, at the smaller market. It took about an hour to drive there from our hotel — it wasn’t that far, but the countryside roads sure are bumpy. It gave us a taste of home during Winnipeg’s pothole season, drivers swerving side to side but in the end, hitting the unavoidable dips and bumps.
The market was full of embroidery, jewelry, socks, axes, and lizhnyky (Hutsul wool blankets).
Some of us put on our new finds before we drove to Bukovets to participate in a mock Hutsul wedding along with Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Ensemble from Minneapolis, who also performed at the festival in Lviv. Two Cheremosh members played the bride and groom, while a Troyanda and a Sopilka chaperone, Gillian and Roger, played the bride’s parents.
People dressed in traditional Hutsul costumes greeted us at the door of the school where the mock wedding preparation and meal took place. They played music for us and served us horilka, kielbasa, and pampushka.
We went inside the school to prepare the bride and groom for the wedding. Though this process usually takes hours, we did a sped up version, watching the bride get dressed and her hair ornately braided and done up with five pieces of headwear.
Getting the groom and the parents ready didn’t take as long, and once they were ready, we decorated the hiltse (wedding tree). Traditionally, the tree is displayed outside the home of the newly married couple for one year.
We all headed outside where horses were waiting for the bride, groom, and parents. The rest of us walked down the road, meeting them at the church. A priest did a condensed version of the ceremony, highlighting what he said were the most exciting parts.
We all went outside after the ceremony, and the bride and groom were given bread to break apart. They each held one side and pulled it apart. The groom got the bigger half, meaning he will live a healthier life than the bride, as the belief goes. The altar boys took the bread and broke it up, passing it out to the wedding guests.
Back at the school, dinner started. There was toast after toast, with a Carpathian wine and an alcohol made from golden root, picked high up in the mountains.
We had more kielbasa, more pampushka, and more horilka, among many, many other dishes like borscht, pork, and potatoes. The Hutsul band played while the wedding guests did the Holubka dance.
And of course the food was not over yet. After another toast (or two or three), the wedding hosts brought out Hutsul banosh (cornmeal porridge) with brynza (cheese).
After a long day of celebration, we headed back to our hotel, some of us having a late dinner. (The Hutsul holubtsi — well, all holubtsi — are amazing here. So far they’ve been served with the creamiest sour cream instead of covered in tomato sauce like back home.)
We had a relaxing Thursday, a day full of free time. In the morning, a few people went for a ride around the area on a Jeep while others walked a bit up one of the mountains. After lunch, we all headed to Sheshory to swim in the stream. The current was stronger than it looked, but the water was shallow, and we enjoyed our time floating along, and perhaps jumping off a (small) cliff or two.
It started raining as soon as we returned to the hotel, so our outdoor supper was moved inside, but the weather cleared up in time for us to enjoy a bonfire. A Hutsul band played live music for us, including Happy Birthday dedicated to Troyanda’s associate artistic director, Paul Doroniuk. Happy Birthday, Paul! We are so proud that all Hutsul people celebrate the day of your birth every single year (at least, that’s what Cobblestone staff member Kyrylo said…).
We danced the night away inside during a zabava for our tour group. It was a wonderful send off from this beautiful region.
Tomorrow we’re going to Chernivtsi where we start off our stay by doing a dance workshop with a Bukovinian ensemble.
Ukrainian phrase of the day
дякую (dyakuyu): Thank you.
It’s a simple one, but an important one.