Those who know me a little while will know that I live with my best friend, Kim, and her Ukranian family. I’ve been invited to the Ukranian Christmas festival, Yarmarok, for a few years now but something always got in the way. Google says Yarmarok means “fun festival” but Nana says it means “beer tent.” I’m going with Nana’s translation.
It’s quite rare that I’m the one that gets invited to participate in someone else’s cultural festivities and I felt honoured to be one of 5 PoC in the church that night.
There was a stage where the performances were held: dancing, singing, playing of traditional instruments (like the bandura). The night started off with the children singing and dancing and toying with my maternal urges, until graduating to older dancers doing back flips across the stage. I can’t put words together well enough to describe the beauty and colour in the performances and costumes.
Around the perimeter were booths selling meals, baked goods, crafts, clothes, jewelry, raffles, etc. There were blouses with traditional cross stitching but they were in the ballpark of $100. Flower crowns were more in my price range, so I bought 2!
Claire’s and Ardenes can fuck off, my flower crowns were made by actual Ukranian artisans and they got all of my dollars. I only planned on buying one (the blue and yellow flowers) but I saw the other band with the beautiful shimmering white and holly berries. I had to have a winter flower crown.
Kim’s mom bought 5 boxes of khrustyky (“kroo-stick-a”), a pastry named after its resemblance to pig’s ears. It’s light and flakey and best served doused in icing sugar. I’ve loved this treat for years, I demanded they bring a box home every year I’ve missed Yarmarok.
Yarmarok typically ends by 9pm but for some reason they ran late this year. I made the grave mistake of wearing contact lenses so by 9:15pm I wanted to rip my eyes out — and that’s after I visited the drug store across the street for eye drops. I wish I could have enjoyed the performances without being so distracted by my own stupid decision to not wear glasses. Next year I will be more prepared. Prepared and bespectacled.