16 January 2011

A Carpatho-Rusyn feast in Niles to cap off the holidays

The food line thins out a bit Saturday afternoon in Niles, Ill.

Some three dozen people gathered in the church hall at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Niles, Ill. on Saturday afternoon to feast on Rusyn delicacies, sing traditional Christmas carols and celebrate their culture at the first Rusyn New Year potluck sponsored by the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society.

There was a wide variety of food available, from salads and cold snacks, like sausage and bryndza cheese, to cabbage soup and borscht, entrees that featured sauerkraut and, of course, pirohy and halushky. Deserts ran the gamut as well, offering more than enough food for the crowd.

Recipes are being collected so we can share our common food history. 

Toasts were offered as well Saturday afternoon as well, with the crowd sampling vodka and home-made slivovitsa, in keeping with the Rusyn flavor of the day, marking old-calendar New Year's Day, which fell on Friday this year.

This was also a way to keep Rusyn Christmas traditions alive, with John Sutko, a member of the LMC/CRS board and choir director at St. Peter & St. Paul Orthodox Church, ably leading the group in traditional carols.

John Sutko
Among the audience favorites, the beloved "O, Kto, Kto," hymn to St. Nicholas.

The day also featured fledgling efforts to archive the history of Rusyns in the Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana area, as board member Andrea Valasek began the process of scanning photographs brought in by members and new Rusyn friends attending their first chapter event.

We'll continue to post pictures from our history on the blog and we're always looking for more. Rusyns have lived in this area since the 19th Century, and it's crucial for us to understand that we're not a new people who've just appeared on the scene.

Special thanks to Father Sam Sherry of St. Michael's, and of his parish community for hosting our event -- and participating in it.

Next up: Stay tuned for more information on our pysanky workshop planned for the afternoon of Saturday, March 26th.

We'll shortly have details on the location and our presenter.

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