By Taras Melnyk

Feast of St Nicholas

On Saturday 15th December at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Rochdale, the annual St. Nicholas play took place.  This year’s play was organised by the Ukrainian School under the leadership of Maria Kopczyk, who worked hard on the preparation and wrote this play herself, titled “Here comes Mykolay”.

The play opened outside on a winter backdrop with a snowman and a bench.  Two obedient children Natalka and Marko (Natalka Hewka and Marko Terplywec) were writing their letters to St. Nicholas.  Suddenly a loud noise was heard and Naughty Peter (Petro Duczak) ran into the hall with a ball and wanted the children to play football with him, rather than continue with their letter.  The children didn’t want to do this and Peter then wanted to see what they had written and grabbed hold of the letter. There was much shoving around before Mother Luba (Luba Lawrence) came in shouting at Peter and demanded to know if Peter had written a letter.  He hadn’t and Mother Luba told Peter that he won’t receive a present from St. Nicholas as he doesn’t help at home.  Peter was upset that he had been told this and went backstage to wash dishes but all that was heard was a loud noise as dishes were smashed.  He then came out with a broomstick to clean the paths but soon gave up and went home to bed!

Three animals then came out: a fox (Natalka Hewka), a squirrel (Ben Hoyle) and a sparrow (Harry Hoyle) looking for food in the snow but could not find anything.  On seeing them, the children fed them all.  Soon, the sound of bells was heard and ‘Svyatey Mykolay’ entered the hall, greeted everyone and asked for Peter, but he was not here, he had already gone to bed.  He began handing out the presents to all the children.  At the end, Maria Kopczyk thanked ‘Svyatey Mykolay’ and everyone for attending and ‘Svyatey Mykolay’ bid farewell ‘til next year.  Suddenly Peter ran into the hall – he was late!  He began to cry.  The teachers tried to calm him down but to no avail.  Unfortunately he had to wait ‘til next year and not forget to write a letter to ‘Svyatey Mykolay’.  It has to be admitted that everyone played their roles very well!

Carol Singing – 7th to 15th January

Members of the Ukrainian School, the Rochdale branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association and the Association of Ukrainian Women in Great Britain visited houses carol singing and wishing the best for New Year.  We visited people that we saw very little of, whether that that be due to being elderly or in poor health.  It was nice to seem them all, have a chat with them, have a laugh together and to raise their Christmas spirit.  Over a few days, we visited over 40 houses.

Communal Christmas Meal – 19th January

On Saturday 19th January, the ladies of the Association of Ukrainian Women in Great Britain (OUZ) prepared the Christmas Meal.  At the beginning Rev. Myhaylo Furyk from the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church began the meal with a prayer and the blessing of the holy bread.  The meal was served by members from all the organisation within the Ukrainian community.  The hall was full and was joined by guests: seated at the main table were: Rev. Myhaylo Furyk with his wife, Mrs Anna Matwijczuk (the wife of Rev. Bohdan Matwijczuk), the Mayor of Rochdale Cllr. Jim Gartside and the Mayoress Cllr. Jane Gartside, the Member of Parliament for Rochdale – Simon Danczuk MP with his wife Cllr. Karen Burke, Chair of the AUGB (Rochdale Branch) – Walter Duczak and the Administrator of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre – Bohdan Lisnyj.

After a delicious meal, the people that had prepared and served the meal gave a rendition of carols and New Year best wishes.  There was a collection for a children’s orphanage in Ukraine.  After the meal, many of the guest stayed on to meet up with long lost friends . 

Christmas Concert – 27th January

In a festively decorated and well attended hall, the programme commenced with the carol “Boh Predvichney” (God Eternal), which was sung by the ladies of the OUZ choir as they entered the hall.  New year wishes were read by Luba Lawrence and then afterwards read a poem by one of our local poets Mrs Tonia Demyanczuk- Szalapay “Rizdvo” (Christmas). 

Our guests from Manchester – the “Petro Dnistrovyk School of Dancing”, choreographed by Maria Babych, then performed three dances: youngest girls “Hutsulka” (The Hutsul Girl), youngest boys “Kozachok” (Cossack Dance) and the mid-aged girls “Prystykova Hotsulka” (Prystykov Hotsul Dance).  They were well received and applauded.  They were followed by the OUZ choir, with the carols “Tyha Nicz” (Silent Night), “Anhely v nebi” (Angels in Heaven) and “Vydiv Boh” (God has Seen).

The Conductress was Susan Solomczak, with the musical accompaniment on the flute given by her daughter Larysa Killoran.  It was pleasant to listen to these carols that are not often performed at concerts – they are also very beautiful and these were technically brilliant in performance!

The School of Dancing” then performed three dances: Older girls with “Kolymeyka” (Kolomey Dance), Boys Duet – Maksym & Mykola “Lisoruby” (The Wood Cutters) and “Kozachok” – younger girls.  Maria Kopczyk, Petro Duczak and Taras Melnyk read some New Year’s wishes and started a communal singalong with the carols “Po Vsomu Svitu” (All Around the World), “Dyvnaya Novyna”, (Wonderful News) and “Vo Vyfleyemi” (In Bethlehem). 

Three dances: Older girls with “Kozachok” (Cossack Dance), “Duet” with Isabella and Stefania and finally the older boys with “Hrychanyky”. 

The closing performances featured the OUZ choir with the carols “Spe Isuse, Spe” (Sleep Jesus, Sleep) and “Ye ta Nicz Svyataya” (The Holy Night).

All the performers came onto the stage and after a word of thanks from Walter Duczak, chair of the Rochdale branch of the AUGB, the concert was finished with a rendition of the last line of the carol “Boh Predvichney” (God Eternal) – “Slava Bohu” (Praise to God).


Ukrayinska Dumka


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