Culture News Society, 18/01/2020

Vertep-Fest Unites Old and Modern Ukrainian Traditions

For the fourth consecutive year, Kharkiv held a bright Vertep-Fest on January 11-12, which is traditionally timed to the winter holidays.

This year, the festival unites 52 diverse ethnic groups from various Ukrainian regions.

The groups of national Festival of Nativity performed all over the city, showing Kharkiv residents a wide variety of vertep genres: puppet’s shows, kobzars’ performances, shadow theater, live costume nativity scenes and more. During two days, the festive atmosphere was created by almost 900 participants aged 4 to 83 years. New ethnic groups from Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions joined this year’s festival. The event’s organizers, Kharkiv with You charity representatives are convinced that it shows a growing interest in Ukrainian traditions in the east of the country.

“The Fourth Vertep-Fest turned out to be extremely warm and sincere,” says Olena Rofe-Beketova, the festival’s chief coordinator. “This time, we felt that the whole city joined in the numerous vertep shows,” she added.

On the first day of the festival, traditional performances took place at social locations, in supermarkets and shopping malls. Christmas carol singers could be observed even in public transport: subways, trolleybuses and trams. Overall, the festival took place in 45 city locations. Also, Gorky Park hosted a large-scale concert, where 12 children’s groups totaling 142 youngsters all took part.

According to event organizers, about 1,500 people took part in a traditional nativity march, which ran from Maidan Svobody along Sumska Street to Gorky Park. Slobozhanshchyna folk groups together with collectives from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Western and Central Ukraine, Kharkiv and Lysychansk residents joined the march. This year, many more viewers cheered the participants creating a merry festive atmosphere.

In Gorky Park, participants joined an international action of simultaneous singing of the most famous Christmas Ukrainian Carol “Nova Radist Stala” (New Joy Came). This year, the national action was supported by 56 Ukrainian cities towns and villages together with three countries – the Netherlands, Poland and Estonia.

The final event, Ethno-parties, took place at the Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater/Skhid Opera. It attracted Vertep-Fest participants as well as representatives of eight ethnic local communities, including Azerbaijani, Greek, Gypsi, Georgian, German, Armenian, Bashkir and Kazakh.

The greatest emotional response of all present was the display of Ukrainian outfits from Iryna Markevich and Iryna Holubieva’s private collection with the participation of Kharkiv Plast members and models of Kreavita inclusive modeling agency.

“In my opinion, this year’s event has turned out to be even better for us,” says the head of Ethno-parties Iryna Markevich. “Many Kharkivites joined the festival, they were very interested in it. And we are incredibly pleased with this fact. It’s very important for us that this year’s Ethno-parties were inclusive. There was a very warm, almost family atmosphere: people meet each other, converse and make new friends. That is our goal.”

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Photo: Vertep-Fest Facebook page