Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A priest and his wife in the Ukraine
To be specific, far southwestern Ukraine (Galicia and Transcarpathia/Ruthenia), separated from Russia and ruled by Poland and Austria for most of its history (since the late 1300s) and the historic homeland of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, to which this priest belongs, the Ukrainian language and a separate Ukrainian (vs. Russian) identity. Interesting article about what sounds like some lovely people - the Ukrainians I've known have been very nice. From the article and its photos you can see how the church life, like the language, is a kind of Russian-Polish hybrid - Polishisms (no beard and wearing a Roman Catholic clerical uniform, not a Byzantine Rite riassa or подрясник) to show they're not Russians but also retaining Russianisms such as the Cyrillic alphabet and some parts of the Byzantine Rite - such as the tradition of ordaining married men, emphasized in this article - to show they're not Polish.

I think because this group historically (since escaping Soviet invasion during and after World War II) dominated the immigrant and exile communities in the US and Canada (Canada has more Ukrainians), many North Americans think they represent the majority of the country (Kiev and all the rest) but AFAIK that's not true. Most of the rest of the country speak Russian, and while most are secular (Sovietized), those who do go to church tend to be Russian Orthodox.

I recently asked somebody from these parts (the far southwest) - himself a WWII refugee - about the 'wicked cold' weather here last week if it's like that over there, and he said yes but without the wind cutting through you, and out in the country 'when you step in the snow you can hear it for miles' (at least it was like that 60 years ago and perhaps still is).

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