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East, West, pagan festivals on Feb. 14 | 12.02

If you’re having a hard time believing that Ukraine is a part of the global village, just take a look at the holidays we’re about to celebrate during the nearest weekend.

Feb. 14 brings a rare opportunity to have three very different holidays at a time - Saint Valentine’s Day, Chinese or Lunar New Year and Maslenitsa, which is Orthodox Pancake week. Obviously, one of these holidays is Western, one Asian and the other East European. They will not line up the same way for another 38 years, until 2048.

So, this is a truly rare chance to have a combined holiday and honor all of those different traditions. You can, of course, try to unite them in one and invite your loved one to a Chinese restaurant for a candle-lit dinner of pancakes. But it’s easier to choose just one of them at a time, and spend the whole day moving from one celebration to another.


If you lived in Kyiv 100 years ago, you wouldn’t know a thing about Saint Valentine’s Day or the Chinese New Year. Instead, the main celebration of the end of winter would be the Pancake week or Cheese-fare Week, known in Russia as Maslenitsa, and in Ukraine as Maslyana or Kolodiy in some regions.

Maslenitsa has pagan roots going back to the times when the Slavs celebrated the sun festival dedicated to the end of winter and beginning of spring. The Orthodox Church adjusted this holiday which started to be celebrated in the last week before the Great Lent. The end of this 48-day lent is marked with the arrival of the Orthodox Easter. This year it falls on April 4, and coincides with the Catholic Easter. Maslenitsa is, essentially, the last chance to have fun and feast before 48 days of fasting. During this week meat is already forbidden but milk, butter, cheese and eggs are allowed to your heart‘s delight.

There is little historical proof of it, but the feast of Maslenitsa is sometimes considered to be a far echo of the Slavic New Year, which used to be celebrated on March 1. In 1492 the holiday was moved to Sept.1, and in 1700 Russian Tsar Peter the Great picked the universal date for the New Year – Jan. 1.

A pancake is a symbol of sun, and served with a multitude of fillings or just plain, it is the main dish to eat for Maslenitsa. However, experts from Kozak Mamay ethnic studies center in Mamayeva Sloboda (the recently opened outdoor historical park) believe that pancakes are a Russian tradition while Ukrainians used to eat varenicky (traditional dumplings) during this holiday. As an argument they refer to an article by a well known Ukrainian ethnologist Mykola Markevych published in Peterburgskiye Vedomosti newspaper in 1850. “At the end of February Maslenitsa comes,” he wrote then. “Women are dragging a ‘kolodka’ [a piece of wood], which means they go from house to house and tie a ‘kolodka’ to the legs of unmarried boys and girls as a punishment for failing to marry in the last marriage season. This ‘kolodka’ can be untied only for bail. The collected money is used to feast, and instead of Moscow’s pancakes they serve varenicks with sour cream. This is the main dish at Maslenitsa.”

The rite of log-dragging and the celebration of the ancient Kolodiy holiday, will be replayed in Mamayeva Sloboda on Feb. 13 and 14, starting at 10 a.m. The more common celebration of Maslenitsa will be traditionally performed in Pyrohovo, the best known Kyiv outdoor museum, on Feb. 14, from noon till 4 p.m. Pancakes with cheese and other fillings as well as varenicks will be served in both places as well as in many Kyiv restaurants.

Mamayeva Sloboda

2 Mykhayla Dontsya, 361-9848, (093) 872-4877, www.mamajeva-sloboda.ua.

Open 10 a.m. till 12 p.m.

Tickets Hr 30 for adults, Hr 10 for school children

Pancake with cheese (Hr 12), a portion of varenicks (Hr 30)

Tours in English and French from Hr 320 or Hr 30 per person for the tour group over 15 people.

Service in local church starts at 8 a.m.

Pyrohiv (Pyrohovo)

National museum of folk architecture and culture

South suburb of Holosiyivsky district, 526-5765, 526-2416, http://pirogiv.com.ua

Tickets Hr 15 for adults, Hr 10 for students and school children, Hr 6 for children under seven.


Tsarske Selo

42/1 Sichnevoho Povstannya, 288-9775


10 Tereshchenkivska, 585-0523


27 kilometer of Novoobukhivske Shose, Pighirtsi village, 050-351-7842.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year also has many names, including the Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival. This year it will begin on Feb. 14 at 4:52 a.m. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2010 is the year of Metallic Tiger. New Year is the biggest and most important traditional holiday in China and is also celebrated in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Traditional celebrations include family gatherings, visiting friends and relatives, giving presents in red envelopes that symbolize luck and prosperity, decorating the house with Chinese lanterns, lighting fireworks, and staging Dragon and Lion dances. The main dishes on the family table are fish and dumplings which are similar to Russian ‘pelmeni’.

In Ukraine the Chinese New gained popularity during the Soviet days, when the country established closer relationships with China. Chinese Zodiac with its 12-year cycle of star signs continues to be popular in modern-day Ukraine. Still, when it comes to having a proper Chinese New Year celebration, you don’t have many options. You best choice will be to book a table at one of the Chinese restaurants in Kyiv on Feb. 14.

Lun Van

26 Khmelnytskoho, 279-8191.

Average meal: from Hr 350

Du Long

46B Shevchenka Boulevard, 235-7350.

Average meal: from Hr 200


30 Khmelnytskoho, 235-9802, 235-4676.

Average meal: from Hr 280

Voline House

68/1 Peremohy Prospect, 458-4318.

Average meal: from Hr 150

Saint Valentine’s Day

Although Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday was established in year 496, in Ukraine it gradually became popular only after it the country gained independence in 1991. Although most representatives of the older generation remain indifferent or skeptical towards the holiday celebrating romantic love and affection, youngsters have accepted it very eagerly and warmly. In response to this fashion, Kyiv restaurants and other establishments have been offering special Valentine’s programs and menus for many years now.

Buddha-bar Kiev lounge-restaurant will hold a Valentine’s Day party on Feb. 13, starting at 9 p.m. Guests will be treated to a romantic atmosphere and a candlelit dinner. Music will be provided by a special guest from Paris – Jan Destanol, a vocalist of popular French duo Modjo. The program also includes a draw of valuable presents from a jewelry boutique. The chef has prepared sweet gifts to all couples dining at the restaurant on that date. Tickets are Hr 150 for men and Hr 50 for women. The deposit for a table at the restaurant and the VIP hall is Hr 1,000 per person and Hr 500 in the lounge-bar.


14, Kreshchatyk, 270-7676

For this special day Ikra restaurant offers 14 percent discounts on all dishes and drinks on the menu. Every couple will get a gift of a dessert– a mouth-watering yogurt mousse on pistachio biscuit with chocolate syrup, and their romantic photo will be taken by the restaurant photographer.


11 Pankivska, 288-1990.

Belmondo restaurant chef has prepared a special menu for couples, Hr 750 for two. Every couple ordering the full menu will receive two cocktails for free.


17 Gogolivska, 482-3082, 362-5886.

Valentine’s day program at Panorama includes live tango music and a contest for the “Perfect Couple of Panorama.” To take part you’ll need to register on the restaurant Website (www.panoprama-rest.com.ua) and upload a photograph of you as a couple. Then, on Feb. 14 all the couples will get awards and prizes and winners will get a Hr 500 deposit for their romantic dinner. Also guests will be offered to cook a heart-shaped dessert for their loved ones all by themselves, under the guidance of the restaurant’s chef.


3 Sholudenko, Cubic Center, 230-4791

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