Caroling Across Campuses
CAROLING ACROSS CAMPUSES
As a member of Western Ukie Students Club for the last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of going caroling with our club multiple times. While sometimes the organization can be stressful, and keeping more than one car of people on track together while we go all over London can be tough, it’s always a fun experience. Every year, we get to explore the Ukrainian community outside
of the Western bubble. We’ve gotten to sit down and chat with interesting people, and simply bring a little extra Ukrainian joy into people's lives. My grandma also lives in London, and it’s a wonderful excuse for me to come and see her. This event always brings a little extra warmth into the bitter winter. We’ve also come away with some hilarious memories, and therefore some tips for those of you who hope to start a kolyada tradition in your USO–you should probably check that the house you’re singing at is the right house before you get through 3 koliadky and a vinchyvanniya.
University of Saskatchewan
Every year, the University of Saskatchewan Ukrainian Students Association goes around town carolling, both to raise money for the group’s activities and to spread the joy of Christmas in musical form.
This year I came along for the ride, and it was to be my first encounter with carolling in any form, never mind carolling in another language for a holiday I’ve never celebrated. As the title indicates, I am not a Ukrainian. I don’t have a drop of Ukrainian blood in my veins, and I was actually born in England before immigrating to Canada at a very young age.
I picked up Ukrainian classes at the university on a whim after getting tired of German and French, and I haven’t regretted a moment of it. I started with struggling to memorize a new alphabet full of funny-looking characters, and sixteen months later I was being invited into strangers’ homes to sing carols while wearing a borrowed Vyshyvanka.
While I was horribly nervous as I shuffled my way up the icy steps to our first house of the night, my nervousness quickly evaporated after we launched into song, and I was delighted by the warm welcome we received and the generous amounts of food and refreshments we were treated to.
Here I was experiencing my first Ukrainian Christmas, and the fact that I was not at all Ukrainian hardly seemed to matter. People would immediately suspect it when I told them my last name, but it was always treated as a delightful curiosity. My worries of feeling out of place were unfounded, and the rest of the week flew by as we continued with our performances. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to make it to all them.
My involvement with USUSA’s annual carolling tour meant that I essentially got to celebrate Christmas twice, and I am grateful that I was able to be a part of it. As an outsider looking in, there were a few things that struck me about Ukrainian Christmas and our Ukrainian community. I saw a holiday immersed in layers of tradition, full of different rituals and aspects that each have their own special meaning. I saw a holiday focused on family, heritage, and faith above all else, one that appeared to encompass “the true meaning of Christmas” that I’ve often heard people lament for when despaired by Christmas consumerism. And I saw a community that was welcoming to everyone and would gladly have anyone join them in celebration. This was my first Ukrainian Christmas, and I am very much looking forward to my second.
University of Ottawa
The University of Ottawa Ukrainian Students’ Club hosts many events each year to help promote Ukrainian culture, language and traditions in Ottawa. One of our most popular and fun annual events, Koliada (carolling), was held from January 15-18, 2019 to celebrate the Ukrainian holidays. Students from the University of Ottawa, and other schools in the region, came together for three nights to sing, eat and celebrate Ukrainian culture. As a club, we were able to visit more than 15 households across the city, including a visit to the Cym Hall on our last night.
During the event, we sang four Ukrainian songs at each location, including “Dobriy Vechir Tobi,” “Schedriy Vechir,” “Nova Radist Stala” and “Schedryk.” We practiced as a group beforehand to rehearse the different melodies. Both regular families, whom we visit annually, and new households were impressed by our dedication.
This year, OUSC was honoured to donate over $1000 of our earnings to “Help us Help the Children,” a non-profit organization in Toronto that works to deliver material goods and education Ukrainian orphans who are desperately in need. Our club wanted to focus on helping others and giving back to the Ukrainian community, both here and abroad. This organization is important to OUSC as it helps to improve the lives of children, especially orphans and those who are in need of humanitarian aid. Notably, this Ukrainian charity since they have helped over 250 orphanages for 25 years and counting. Simply by undergoing events such as Koliada, OUSC has been raising awareness about HUHTC in addition to the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine. The University of Ottawa Ukrainian Students’ club is proud to have helped children in Ukraine through our Koliada event in Canada.
OUSC is happy to say that Koliada 2019 went well, and we look forward to next year!