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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Kyiv Traditions

Ukraine was a pagan country long before Christianity came around, so its no surprise that the locals respond so strongly to the coming of the warmth.
Were on the brink of spring again, even if for the second straight year there wasnt much of a winter to precede it. Contemporary Ukrainians celebrate spring by filling the arms of women with bunches of flowers on 8 March, but our ancestors took their spring celebratory rites more seriously. Anyway, winter is on the way out and spring is on the way in.  Its the beginning of March, but its not so much the calendar that hammers home that spring is here, but the signs on the street. Among those are the new abundance of birds, the first tender green leaves, longer days, and girls naked knees on the street.

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Why are all those Ukrainian politicians jumping into the icy Dnipro when you turn on the news this month? Whats On has the scoop on a bone-chilling local tradition. If youre a Westerner living in Ukraine, the Christmas season might seem to last forever. After all, youre probably oriented toward a Western calendar and following the Western media, which starts carrying Christmas advertising and content in late November at the latest.  Under normal circumstances youd expect the holiday season to be over with the New Year, but of course in Ukraine, which follows the Orthodox calendar, thats when its just starting. Right when you think the decorated pine trees should be coming down, some are still going up, and grocery stores keep playing Christmas songs until the third week in January.

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Whether 2007 was a good year for you and you want 2008 to be the same, or 2007 wasnt the best and youd like 2008 to be better, according to local tradition there are a number of customs you can follow that will make next year a good one. Heres how

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December 19 marks Saint Nicholas Day here in Ukraine, and the What`s On staff decided to celebrate the important occasion (to kids, anyway) by answering the question: just who was the man at the core of the Jolly Old Saint Nick legend anyway? The story begins, unsurprisingly, with a fellow named Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara, on the southern coast of whats now Turkey and back then was a Greek-speaking province of the Roman Empire.

St. Andrews Day, 13 December, is when unmarried girls can learn the names, habits, and professions of their future husbands, and even get a look at their faces if they follow the correct rituals. So if you are young and single, or old and single for that matter, we thought wed let you in on how its all done.

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It has been 15 years since The Governmental Flag of Ukraine was adopted as the Ukrainian nations national flag. Since January 1992 it has flown over the country uninterrupted, but it is not the first time the flag was raised over a united Ukraine. It was officially adopted for the first time in history in 1918 by a short-lived Ukrainian Peoples Republic. At that time it was blue and yellow just as it is today, but it also sported a Tryzub in the upper left-hand corner. The insignia remained unchanged by the succeeding government of Pavlo Skoropadsky and was later integrated into the flag of the Ukrainian SSR by the Bolsheviks. However, under Soviet rule this flag was forbidden as a symbol of nationalism, and the Ukrainian SSR adopted its own flag. Blue and yellow banners were widely used by Cossacks between the 16th and 18th centuries. This was not the only possible combination, since Cossacks would normally fly their hetmans banners which were similar to the coats of arms of the nobility. However, yellow and blue were the colors common on coats of arms in Galicia. In fact, the coat of arms of Lviv remains to this day a golden lion on a blue field. The true starting point of the current national flag of Ukraine can be traced back to 1848, when during the spring a yellow and blue banner flew over the Lviv magistrate for the first time. Although this move didnt have significant consequences, the newly formed Ukrainian divisions in the Austrian army adopted yellow and blue banners as their insignia.

It isnt only the date which differentiates the Orthodox Christmas from its Catholic counterpart. In the past Ukrainian Christmases were accompanied by a whole host of fascinating rituals and traditions, many of which were pagan in origin, and many families keep these ancient customs live today.

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For centuries vertep, a form of puppet street theatre, entertained crowds during the Christmas and New Year period. The performances were mainly religious in nature and can be regarded as the first genuinely popular form of street entertainment in Ukraine.

What do parachuting and ice fishing have in common? - Believe it or not, both are extreme sports. Ice fishing is doubtless the slowest of all extreme sports and requires the least amount of adrenaline. This drowsy pastime however assumes an extreme touch as soon as one goes under-the-ice either by falling through the ice by mistake or on purpose, diving and swimming in the freezing water. Extremes notwithstanding, ice-fishing is a ritualistic must for many Ukrainian men. Annually, Kyivs winter cityscape all along the Dnipro River is dotted with tiny figures pitter-pottering about on a seemingly endless surface of white ice. Likewise, the capitals newspapers are dotted with reports of rescue operations and casualties from ice fishing nationwide. According to the State Ministry of Emergency Services, each year more than 100 ice fishers become fatalties. A safe thickness for the ice to support a human being is about 7 centimeters. This theoretical knowledge alone is little help for the inexperienced or foolhardy, since the water is insidious, old-timers say. The ice behaves differently from day to day and from one spot to another. Where in one spot the ice may be a half-meter thick and sturdy enough for an automobile, it may be dangerously fragile only a few steps away! Currents, underwater activity or the draining of water by hydro-electric stations, and sewer runoffs are largely responsible for the irregular thicknesses of the ice layer in urban areas. Ironically, some fishermen claim that where the ice is cracked and at its thinnist is where the most bountiful numbers of marketable fish gather. It is this lure of a quick catch, and easy money that draw many a fisherman to his doom, ending up sleeping with the fishes rather than catching them. So unless you are a very experienced ice-fisher, remember, dont try this at home.

Going out to the forest on an early summer or autumn morning to pick mushrooms is a time honoured tradition in these lands. Whats On went out to the back and beyond recently in the company of Dr. Viktor Bilay, an expert in all things fungal, and a walking guarantee not to get a nasty stomach ache or worse!



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Ukraine Truth
Rights We Didnt Know We Had

Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.

Kyiv Culture

Pulling Strings
Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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