Eduard Yurchenko: “Holiday sociology” and practical de-Sovietization

According to the sociological surveys, Easter is one of the most favorite holidays of Ukrainians. What can we learn from this “holiday sociology”?

Firstly, de-Sovietization of consciousness is well under way. Easter is more than twice more popular than the “Victory Day” and 8 times (!) more popular than May Day. In fact, only such holidays as “Women’s Day” and New Year can compete with religious holidays (the “Victory Day” also retains popularity, but it is decreasing now).

 

Secondly, actually only those Soviet holidays are kept which are not specifically ideological and remain as examples of “pseudo-traditionalism”.

 

New Year is a typical holiday of completing the old cycle and beginning the new one. In the Soviet period it was introduced to replace Christmas. In fact, the New Year is parasitizing on Christmas and even pre-Christian Kolovorot. Interestingly, Christmas and the New Year are equally popular, though the conditions for celebrating the New Year are provided by the state. For believers, winter holidays are associated with real inconvenience, as the New Year is celebrated on the most severe period of Nativity Fast. So, more and more Ukrainians celebrate Christmas with a complete awareness rather than by habit.

 

International Women’s Day was conceived as a typical ideologically motivated Marxist holiday, but actually obtained a diametrically opposite sense. Specific women’s holidays are kept in all cultures and religions of the world. Their very concept is deeply traditional and it is opposed to the levelling of natural differences between the sexes. A secular Women’s Day in most European countries can be Mother’s Day (deeply conservative for its concept). Interestingly, these holidays are celebrated in spring (which can also be connected with some feminine mythological archetypes). Thus, the alternative for the 8th of March is not just possible but actually already exists.

 

The situation with the “Victory Day” is even easier. In fact, it is a cynical exploitation of ancestral memory associated with the day of military glory (present completely in all traditions and cultures) with the only purpose of “propaganda”. Clearly, it will be popular until the cultural policy of the state does not find an adequate replacement for it. More precisely, until it does not provide an adequate presentation of the Intercession of the Theotokos in the mass consciousness, as it is a day of military glory of Rus-Ukraine since the period of Kievan Rus. We shouldn’t forget that it is a holiday of those Ukrainians who by the will of fate had to fight in the ranks of the Soviet army, as the Intercession was always considered as the day of all warriors regardless of the army they specifically served (in the era of Kievan Rus or Cossack Ukraine our people also fought on opposite sides). So, the Intercession is a universal holiday, and the argument that “grandfathers fought” can be used against it only by the “spherical homo soveticus in vacuum”. And in the spring cycle of holidays there is St George’s Day, which in Ukraine-Rus was considered not only as specifically religious holiday but also as the day of the patron saint of army soldiers, Cossacks, princes, and aristocrats. In the epoch of Cossacks, both the Intercession and St George’s Day were celebrated.

 

Thirdly, only traditional holidays can compete with soviet ones. Artificial holidays such as Independence Day or especially Constitution Day, will never be so effective, but Intercession can be. Characteristically, that Easter became the most popular holiday in the independent Ukraine. This holyday is quite informal and not promoted by the state (the day-off and semi-official “jog” of the authorities to the churches it is not their initiative, but the recognition of the objective situation), it is deeply traditional and sacred by its form and spirit (it is really hard to secularize it fails even in marasmus, politically correct West).

 

Therefore, the main conclusion we can draw is that the traditional holidays are reliable ways to practical desovietization of Ukrainian public consciousness. But it is impossible without real support of community and state. Tradition will win pseudo-tradition, but it may require more time and strength.

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