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On the menu: Varenyky, holubtsi, kovbasa, borshch, babka and paska

Thursday, March 21, 2013
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Anastasia Kostyk, left, shows a few of the varenyky (pierogi) she is helping to bag with Domma Swidersky and Vira Dyakivrt, preparing for the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Easter Bazaar.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Anastasia Kostyk, left, shows a few of the varenyky (pierogi) she is helping to bag with Domma Swidersky and Vira Dyakivrt, preparing for the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Easter Bazaar.

Some of the words at Sunday’s celebration at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church may be hard to pronounce.

But they will be easy to eat.

Varenyky, holubtsi, kovbasa, borshch, babka and paska all will be served during the church’s annual Easter Bazaar, which will take place Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Vira Dyakiv believes people will attend the bazaar for more than just stuffed dumplings, cabbage rolls, pork and lamb sausage, vegetable soup and two kinds of bread. Church members have been making the foods all month, except for the sausage — that comes from a Ukrainian market in New York City.

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Easter Bazaar

WHERE: St. Nicholas Church, 24 Pulaski St., Amsterdam

WHEN: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: Admission free. Foods and goods available for sale

More than food

“It’s not just about food,” said Dyakiv, a member of St. Nicholas for the past five years and the bazaar organizer. “It’s about showing people how good the traditions are from thousands of years ago. I’m proud to show people we’re Ukrainian and we try to show them how other nations celebrate . . . we try to teach them what these traditions mean.”

Traditions are key at the church, which opened in 1910. One of the biggest ones is “pysanky,” eggs ornately decorated with colors and symbols such as oak leaves, rosettes, stars and saints. Church members will demonstrate the process on the hollowed eggs during a two-hour workshop that will begin at 1 p.m.

“You have a feeling that you really made something,” Dyakiv said. “The kids will come in with really good spirits, have a candle and a painting kit. Every line on the egg means something. Sometimes, when you make a fish, it means give us fish for one day, give us fish to share with somebody. They are very unique, they are like Tiffany for us.”

Artists “design” the eggs with beeswax and a heated stylus. Each color in the design is achieved by separate layers of wax lines; each layer is dyed a chosen color. Finished eggs are often varnished for a permanent high gloss.

Sunday — Palm Sunday — will be a big day for the 50 families in the St. Nicholas parish. While Christian churches traditionally use palm branches during services to commemorate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, Ukrainians use pussy willows. The long, flowered sprigs are used, Dyakiv said, because there were no palm branches in Ukraine. And pussy willows are traditionally among the first flowers of spring.

“We tap each other with the pussy willows, greet people after Mass and wish them good Easters,” Dyakiv said.

Another tradition will take place on Holy Saturday, the night before Easter. Easter baskets filled with bread, eggs and other foods will be blessed by Rev. Marian Kostyk, the church pastor. Each family will cover its basket with elaborate embroidery and take it home, where it will be uncovered Easter morning.

“Every piece means something,” Dyakiv said. “Bread always means food, without bread people will not survive. And when you have this bread, you’re supposed to cut this bread for how many people you have for Easter and share it with them. Same with eggs. On Easter, we take an egg and cut it in the home and if you have 20 people you have to cut one egg for 20 small pieces and give a piece to everyone, wish them good life.”

Myron Swidersky, among the dozen people who helps put together the bazaar, said eggs, ceramics and embroidered items will be on sale.

Sharing traditions

“We like to share our traditions with our children in the first place and with our neighbors as well,” he said, “so that the culture can permeate into American culture like the Italian and Polish cultures do now. Polish and Italian cuisine are known now, we’d like to do the same thing with Ukrainian cuisine and traditions.”

Dyakiv said 350 people attended last year’s bazaar. She expects a similar number on Sunday.

“Last year we had no food left, nothing left,” she said. “We had a line waiting, it was supposed to start at 11 o’clock and at 9 o’clock, people were waiting for food already.”

 
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