22 January 2012

Lake Michigan Carpatho-Ruysn Society Celebrates Rusyn New Year

Participants continue the Rusyn tradition
of providing more than enough food for guests
Candles burning in holiday centerpieces on each table added a festive touch to Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society’s Rusyn New Year celebration.  Eighty people made their way to St. Peter and St. Paul Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge, Illinois on January 14 for the chapter’s second annual potluck luncheon.  

The buffet table was laden with traditional dishes such as halushki (noodles and fried cabbage), pagach (flat bread with potato and cheese filling) accompanied by honey for dipping, pirohi, mushroom machunka (thick soup made with dried mushrooms), bryndza (sheep’s milk cheese), herring, halupki (stuffed cabbage), pickled beets and smoked sausage as well as salads and appetizers. As more and more food kept arriving, Paula Manzuk, who volunteered to coordinate the food, was kept busy re-arranging the tables to make room for new dishes.  A separate dessert table was covered with traditional Rusyn nut and poppyseed rolls, kolachi and poppyseed cake as well as other sweets. 

Prior to the luncheon, guests had the opportunity to visit the genealogy table where Arlene Dremak Gardiner assisted them in finding the villages of their ancestors.  She also encouraged them to attend the chapter’s genealogy workshop which she will conduct in late summer.  Arlene and her daughter Karin Gardiner Sandman also displayed some of their pysanky collection.  They will offer a pysanky-making workshop on Saturday, March 24 at Descent of the Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Schererville, Indiana.  Information about both events will be posted on this blog.  At the Rusyn Market, Richard Trojanowski and Ken Cuprisin offered books, T-shirt, CDs and other Rusyn items, some of which came from Rusyn villages in Slovakia and Poland.  
Arlene Gardiner assists Bob Yurschak
in finding the village of his ancestors.
Some attendees gathered about a table with a display board commemorating the chapter’s late president Tim Cuprisin who died the day before Thanksgiving.  It also held pictures of last year’s pysanky decorating and genealogy workshops which will be held again this year.  On the table were photographs from the 1940’s and earlier of Viflejemčiki or Jasličkári, traditional Rusyn Bethlehem singers.  Traditionally the Jaslichkary or shepherds, garbed in white long white garments with colorful ribbons across their chests and tall stove-pipe hats, began their visit to a home with the singing of Rozhdestvo Tvoje, the tropar for the Birth of Christ. Then they presented a short play about the Nativity and sang carols. They carried with them a small church with a nativity scene inside as they told the story of His birth. 
Joan Klisch-Williams looks at old pictures of traditional Rusyn Jaslichkay.
The solemnity of the Jaslichkary was in sharp contrast to the accompanying kubi who wore old clothes and sheepskin masks and carried wooden hatchets.  They chased children about the home, threatening to put the naughty ones in the large burlap bags they slung over their shoulders.  The likelihood of such a happening was diminished as the bag was usually filled with food and drink from the households already visited. The singing of Mnohaja Blahaja L'ita (Many Blessed Years) concluded the visit.

After the luncheon, newly-elected president Charlotte Pribish Conjelko introduced all the board members and talked about upcoming events such as a pysanky-making workshop at Descent of the Holy Spirit Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Church in Schererville, Indiana on March 24 and a genealogy workshop in late summer.  She also welcomed suggestions for programs and speakers.

A big hit at the gathering were Heather Domanski and Colleen Villasenor who wore traditional Rusyn clothing which they created.  The talented seamstresses have their own business making priests’ vestments, Easter basket covers and baptismal dresses from wedding gowns.
Colleen Villasenor and Heather Domanski tell
about their Rusyn garments that they created.
After everyone had eaten, Board Member John Sutko led the singing of traditional Rusyn Christmas carols.  He also created a booklet of 15 traditional Eastern European carols for those who attended to take home.
Ss. Peter and Paul choir director John Sutko leads the singing of carols after the luncheon.
The day concluded with host pastor Fr. Herman Kincaid inviting everyone to attend a Panachida for deceased Lake Michigan Chapter President Tim Cuprisin in the church and wishing everyone a safe journey home.
Fr. Herman Kincaid offers a Panachida for Tim Cuprisin.
Responses were sung by board members Fr. John Lucas, treasurer, Fr. William Conjelko and John Sutko

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