Annual "Yalynka" celebration rings in holiday season at UIA
by Deanna T. Yurchuk
NEW YORK - How many engineers does it take to light up a Christmas tree? On December 1, 131 members, family and friends of the Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America (UESA) lit up the Christmas season at this year's "Yalynka" celebration at the Ukrainian Institute of America.
The UESA is an organization of Ukrainian American engineers and other technical and scientific professionals that used to be the sole sponsor of the annual Yalynka. Today, however, it is a coalition of UESA, The Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA), and the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA).
The UESA has been hosting this pre-Christmas event for many years. The Yalynka serves as both a social venue as well as a networking opportunity among professionals, according to the president of the UESA's New York Chapter, Alexander Salewycz.
Mr. Salewycz, son of longtime UESA member Zenon Salewycz, feels it is important to continue the tradition that the founders of the society started. "This Christmas celebration is open to everyone and is cross-generational," he said. "The party is our way to give back to the community," he added.
Although the spirit of the Yalynka has remained the same through the years, its form has slightly changed. In the past, volunteers would walk to Baczynsky's meat market in the downtown area to purchase bread, kovbasa and wine, then drive uptown where they would spend hours in the institute's tiny kitchen preparing refreshments, according to Mr. Salewycz. Today, the event is professionally catered.
In the past, the program of the Yalynka also has varied. In recent years the guests have seen a "Vertep" performed by Ukrainian seminarians from St. Basil's College in Stamford, Conn., and the Prolisok choir of the Ukrainian American Youth Association (SUM).
This year the Yalynka did not have a formal program. Rather, warmed by hot cider, the guests enjoyed Christmas music by pianist Andriy Stasiw who played throughout the evening. Mr. Stasiw also accompanied the young Christmas carolers who gathered to sing a spontaneous repertoire of traditional Ukrainian "koliady" and "schedrivky," such as "Boh Predvichnyi," "Dobry Vechir Tobi" and "Schedryk" in order to initiate the holiday season.
Maria Lishchynsky, a Lviv native, attended the Yalynka for the first time. With her beautiful contralto she enthusiastically joined the group of carolers. "It was nice to observe people from different generations talking, singing and enjoying the warm and pleasant atmosphere," Ms. Lischynsky said. "I was especially moved by the caroling," she added.
The Ukrainian Institute on 79th Street and Fifth Avenue served as a beautiful setting for the freshly cut Christmas tree that was decorated for the occasion. It is appropriate for what used to be soley the engineers' Yalynka to be held at the Institute every year, since the founder and benefactor of the Ukrainian Institute of America, William Dzus, also was an active UESA member.
Toward the end of the evening, Mr. Salewycz expressed his gratitude to members of the USEA, UMANA and UIA, and friends, as well as the community at large for their support and participation in the Yalynka and wished everyone a joyous Christmas season.
"The Yalynka is one of the highlights of our year, and I urge all members and the community to attend next Christmas season," said Andrij Wowk, president of the UESA's New Jersey Chapter.
For more information on the society, including membership information, log on to www.uesa.org.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, December 24, 2000, No. 52, Vol. LXVIII
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