Friday, October 16, 2009


NOTE: This post was written before My Fall, but a good reminder of our blessings when we need it most. From Kiev, with love, Fran.

Pokrova is an Orthodox religious holiday in Ukraine, symbolizing the covering of Mary, the Holy Mother, and her protection of God's children.

It has been joined by a secular harvest celebration as well, a sort of Ukrainian Thanksgiving. It's a day for giving thanks, recognizing the bounties of nature, acknowledging the transition from Autumn to winter.

I joined a throng of people on the campus of the university and teacher's institute in Starobilsk for the Pokrova holiday on October 14. It was wonderful.

People say it usually snows on this day. Not this year. The day was sunny and balmy, the foliage at its peak of yellow, gold and orange. The leaves fell gently to the ground, covering it like a blanket covering the Virgin Mary. Svyato Pokrova.

There were dozens of tables featuring traditional and modern Ukrainian cuisine -- borscht, verneky, fall vegetables, lots of grapes, fresh bread and baked goods. Many hosts were dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothing, embroidered and colorful. The college staged a program of Ukrainian songs and dances. The Starobilsk Cultural Center sponsored a folklife festival featuring Ukrainian artists and their works in different mediums.

I was happy to see Leonid Nicholyovich of the Cultural Center, as well as Helen (Lena), the daughter of Vera Flyat, director of NGO Victoria, displaying her beautiful folk art paintings.

I enjoyed walking around the campus with Natalia, meeting her students and fellow professors. I also ran into some of the members of our English Club. PCV Mike Young joined us, a bowl of borscht in his hands. We later had a special lunch in Natalia's office and I got to meet Victor, the German language professor, and a delightful host.

It was a special day. Pokrova reminds us that the bounties of nature cover planet earth and should be shared by all, and that we have much for which to be thankful.

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