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Children’s festival Oreli
The First All-Ukraine Children’s Folklore Festival Oreli was held at the Ukrainian Folk Culture Center Muzey Ivana Honchara in September 2008.
The program of the two-day festival was packed with events. There were 15 children’s dance and song groups that performed folk songs and dances. They came from the Lands of Kharkivshchyna, Vinnychyna, Dnipropetrovshchyna, Donechchyna, Luhanshchyna, Cherkashchyna, Lvivshchyna, Zakarpattya, Poltavshchyna, and Kyivshchyna. Each group had to perform truly authentic songs or dances of the land they came from. A contest for the best costume was held. Prizes were given to the winners and to those whose dresses came “from the grandma’s trunk.” One of the boys of the Tsimboryky Ensemble from Lviv, for example, wore a dress that must have dated from the early twentieth century, and the rest of his troupe were dressed in costumes that were made recently as copies of the authentic Ukrainian costumes of that region. The boy who was awarded a prize for his costume, explained that his dress had been kept in the safekeeping of the church in his native village and was lent to him to perform in.
The atmosphere of the festival was quite relaxed — children, their performance over, took off their shoes and walked about barefoot, the way they do in their native villages.
Master classes were organized for children to teach them to make pottery, to do weaving and beadwork, to make toys, whistles and dolls from threads, corncobs and stems, to play traditional Ukrainian games and sing accompanying songs. At the children’s playground Ravlyk (Snail) the festival participants could paint the walls of the toy houses, play traditional children’s games. Ukrainian fairy tales were recited, traditional puzzles were solved.
The children’s parents were offered to attend “classes” at which they could learn a lot about Ukrainian age-old traditions in preparations for the birth of a child, in bathing and swaddling the new-born babies. They learned games that could be played with children to develop their speaking skills, they were told about children’s fears, about celebrations held during the first year of the child’s life, and even about the first cutting of the child’s hair.
A babusya (a term of endearment for “old woman”) from Kyivshchyna taught how to sing lullabies and told fairy tales. Hanna Koropchenko, a musicologist and ethnographer, held master classes devoted to old lullabies. These classes were attended by pregnant women, parents with small babies, and grandparents with their grandchildren. An old-time cradle in which small children could be placed to be rocked was a great attraction.
Older children enjoyed other forms of entertainment. Boys were taught to ride a horse, and girls how to do traditional weaving, to make bouquets for religious feasts, and how to make clothes for dolls.
Nina Matviyenko sang Ukrainian songs, Sashko Lirnyk from Kyiv and Dyad’ko Lev from Volyn’ told fairy tales; professional musicians played Ukrainian traditional tunes. There was a magic earthenware pot at the festival too — if you wrote a wish on a piece of paper and put it into the pot, your wish would come true, if not immediately than in the future for sure.
A round-table discussion, devoted to the raising of children in the Ukrainian traditional spirit, was held with the participation of ethnographers, folklorists, musicologists, medical doctors, psychologists and teachers.
An exhibition, Children in the Ukrainian Old-Time Traditional Family and Home, was held within the framework of the festival. Among the exhibits were specimens of children’s dresses, decorations, furniture, toys and household items of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as old photographs and pictures that showed children. Eight museums of Ukraine lent their articles to the exhibition at the Ivan Honchar Museum. Videos filmed in the villages of Chernihivshchyna, Sumshchyna, Kyivshchyna and Poltavshchyna showed old women telling stories, fairy tales, singing lullabies and playing with children. These old women also demonstrated how to handle new- born babies and massage them properly.
The word Oreli in the name of the festival means “swings for children”. Such swings were made of flat pieces of wooden boards attached to ropes which were hung from boughs of trees. These Oreli swings in the courtyard of the museum were in constant demand — there were lines of children waiting for their turn.
The Festival Oreli proved to be a great success and will be held next year too.
By Yaroslava Levchuk
Photos by Ivan DUDKIN
The organizers express their gratitude to the Volia Cable Company, Gloria Plaza Company, Diary Company Halychyna, All-Ukraine Charity Fund Zhyvodayne Dzherelo; Drevosvet Studio, Kyivpryanyk Company, Kyivkhlib Company, Vodno-Information Center, Sofiya Kyivska Historical Preserve, and Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Historical and Cultural Preserve.
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