My Beautiful Date

Malanka: Ukrainian New Year’s!

Growing up in Utica my hometown parish would celebrate the New Year in January, after Ukrainian Christmas (which is celebrated on Jan. 6 and 7).

Malanka was a feast for the senses… big roast beef dinners, all the grape (or orange) NEHI you could drink, dancing and party hats, balloon drop, and the occasional sneaking in of pizza from Pasquale’s. It was a party like no other… especially when your 5!

IMAGE Gretchen -- what a smile!

My Gretchen

Years later, I have the chance to relive it…sort of, with my daughter Gretchen. While Theodore would be overwhelmed with the music and lights and sounds, and Olena was trying to stay well enough for her upcoming week (more on that later), I was able to interest Gretchen in going to Malanka held at St. Volodymyr’s in Utica, N.Y.Her only request: that she wear pants.

“I’ll go but I’m not wearing a dress. I’m going to wear pants.”

While we didn’t stay as long as I did as a kid (I do have a bit to drive) we did indulge in some hors d’oeuvers: and this is what she ate:


Broccoli and dip!



Then roast beef, mashed potatoes. Orange juice. Potato pierogi. Bottled water (what a treat. How does this kid not like soda?!).

Finale: A giant piece of cake.

She sat through a Ukrainian-only skit about good and evil. Listened to Ukrainian Christmas carols. Got tuned into some polka from Melody Lane (these folks have been playing forever!) although she refused to dance.

IMAGE Gretchie and BIG cake

Oh that cake! That chocolate cake!!

Miss Gretchen had a grand time but as soon as she was done with her cake she announced it was time to go home.”So, Gretchen, did you have fun?”


“Would you go again?”

Silence… less than a mile from the church my date had fallen asleep, and started snoring like you wouldn’t believe.

It brought back memories of my own Malanka as a kid when I’d fall asleep in the car, and my dad would carry me inside, and tuck me in bed.

What a wonderful night!

Until next time…


NOTE: If you can, catch the RICK MERCER REPORT on CBC tomorrow at 8 p.m. Rick visits a Malanka celebration way more elaborate than the one we went to. I can’t wait to see it!!


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