NORTHEAST Slovakia, known for its extensive Ruthenian-Ukrainian minority, recently showcased the cultural wealth of the ethnicities.
The Cultural Celebrations of Ruthenians-Ukrainians in Svidník annually held in the middle of June grandiosely kicked off its second half-century, welcoming performers from home as well as from Ukraine, Hungary, and Croatia.
Days later, the 45-member Ruthenian folk ensemble Slavjane from Pittsburgh, USA, that toured the Ruthenian homeland in Poland and Ukraine, stopped at the Culture and Sport festival in Medzilaborce and Alexander Duchnovič theatre in Prešov.
The rich participation of the Ruthenian and Ukrainian tradition-keepers in the region's festivals is evidence that the culture of these minorities is as alive in Slovakia as abroad. Svidník has become the centre of Ruthenian-Ukrainian culture.
"The festival points to the deep roots the Ruthenian-Ukrainian culture has [in Slovakia] and the ability to survive in any environment," said Pavol Bogdan, deputy-chairman with The Syndicate of Ruthenians-Ukrainians of the Slovak Republic, which organises Svidník's festival, referring to insufficient subsidies for national minorities from the Slovak government.
The 51st Cultural Celebrations of Ruthenians-Ukrainians in Svidník presented a broad spectrum of culture including artists, writers, an exhibition of Ukrainian books, traditional demonstrations such as erecting maypoles, and a rich folk programme.
"Folklore presentations remain the core," said Bogdan, "but with the festival entering its second half-century we would like to enrich the programme's diversity with other cultural genres."
Visitors to the festival could also spot newly appointed Culture Minister František Tóth walking in a parade behind a carriage filled with musicians on their way to the local amphitheatre.
"I would like to demonstrate that it's necessary that people attend such festivals and don't just sit in their offices.
"I can feel that the people here organize it really soulfully. One can feel a great peace here, and I indeed feel content here," Tóth told the local Podduklianske novinky newspaper.
By Zuzana Habšudová
11. Jul 2005 at 0:00