Deep Freeze Festival brings history to life with remnants of the Romans
Along with the annual ice sculptures, bonfires, performers and activities, Deep Freeze Festival 2018 will include captivating historical throwbacks to the early days of Canada.
Traditions from around the world are showcased, spanning Viking voyages, the fur trade, and more recently, large groups of immigrants from both Europe and Africa that have moved to Canada.
However, Alberta Avenue’s Byzantine Winter Festival has a different rhythm than most.
The festival abides by the Julian calendar rather than the commonly used Gregorian. Most calendars will label an ‘Orthodox Christmas’ in January, which refers to the Julian calendar’s origins in the Greek tradition and Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar, celebrates Christmas Day on January 7 and New Year’s Day on January 14 (known as Old New Year).
With many of the festival’s organizers coming from Orthodox Ukrainian backgrounds, holding the event on the weekend of January 14 is an intentional way of honouring and celebrating the Orthodox New Year.
As with most Canadian celebrations, many cultures have caught on and added their own touch to the festivities.
While the majority of the festival hosts performances and activities from the Ukrainian, Franco-Canadian, Franco-African, Acadian and Indigenous communities, other cultural groups can be found from Northern Europe and the Middle East, too.
The 11th year of the festival will feature the second annual round dance with Enoch Cree Nation as well as the Pipon Village (‘winter’ in Cree) Indigenous artisan market, featuring freshly made fire hot tea and bannock made over the fire.
More recent groups of immigrants are also performing, including Wajjo African Drummers, Burundi Dancers and the hard-to-place Bedouin Beats bellydancers.
Moving into European roots, staples of French-Canadian voyageur life can also be found, such as traditional log sawing and axe throwing, finger-weaved ceinture fléchée sashes, tourtière (French-Canadian meat pie), and snow-twirled maple syrup on Saturday. Ukrainian-immigration is represented with Vinok musicians, and Shumka and Cheremosh dance school performances on the Sunday.
Executive director of Shumka School of Dance, Darka Tarnawsky, says the Shumka training for young dancers is very important in learning about their culture and arts. Ukrainian New Year, known as ‘Malanka’ from a pagan folk tale adopted by the Orthodox Christians, is celebrated over the weekend of the festival on January 13. Shumka School of Dance will perform the “Malanka Suite” on Sunday, telling the infamous tale of ‘the devil and the gypsy.’
Sat., Jan. 13-14
Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival
Alberta (118) Ave. between 90 and 95 St.
Entry by donation