Friday, January 9, 2015

THE PA MELTING POT: New Year's in Greece, The Balkans, The Ukraine and Croatia




Column for The Uniontown Herald-Standard which appeared on 1/8/2015

The Melting Pot:  A SPECIAL NEW YEAR’S COLUMN
Hope everyone enjoyed your New Year’s celebration.  Many other countries also celebrated the New Year’s holiday. 

GREECE

According to the 2000 US Census there were approximately 15,000-20,000 Greek Americans in western Pa in the suburban areas.  New Year’s Day (or the Feast of Saint Basil) is a mix of traditional rites and modern fun.  On the morning of the New Year the children go from door to door singing kalanta (carols) and they are rewarded with a coin in return. Foods served during the holiday are:   Vassilopita (a sweet and savory bread baked with a gold or silver coin in it which will bring about good luck), Domatosoupa me Lathi (tomato and pasta soup), Tiropitakia (small feta cheese pies), Lahanosalata (winter cabbage salad), Galopoula Yemisti (stuffed turkey with chestnut and raisin stuffing),  Makaronia Ograten (meatless baked pasta), Meze (cheeses and olives), Horiatiko Psomi (crusty country bread) and epid√≥rpia (desserts).


THE BALKANS
We don’t know how many Balkan Sea area descendants there are in western Pa. but numbers vary from 1 million to over 3 million in the United States.  Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and other former Yugoslavian countries celebrate New Year’s Day on January 13-14 according to the Julian calendar by decorating the Christmas tree on New Year’s Eve and exchanging presents at that time.  They also bake a bread similar to the coined Greek bread (Vassilopita) called Cesnica.   Some foods (Serbian terms) served were Pita Sa Sirom (cheese pies), Cevapcici (miniature kebabs stuffed into lepinja bread), Svinjetina Poroku (pork tenderloin), Sarma (stuffed cabbage), Pecenje (split-roasted pig), Tortes (tarts), Povitica (nutrolls), and Prijatnol (strudels) and desserts galore. Rakia (a powerful drink of grape brandy sometimes blended with whiskey and spices) is traditional at this time of year.

THE UKRAINE
The Pittsburgh area (also including Harmony Twp., Baden and Ambridge) is home to the fourth largest Ukrainian population in the United States, with most settling in the South Side, Carnegie, and McKees Rocks. Feasting on Ryba (fish), Salo (pork), Ovochi (legumes), Holubtsi (cabbage rolls), Pampushki (potato dumplings stuffed usually with cheese), Borshch (a basic stir-fry of grated beet root with tomatoes and vegetables), Varenyky (dough stuffed with anything: mashed potatoes with mushrooms and fried onions, pickled cabbage, minced meat and even cherries!) and Torty (cakes) and other confections are a big part of Ukrainian New Year's Eve and Day festivities celebrated on Jan. 13-14. Families gather to reflect on the past year, make toasts and predictions about the coming year, and presents are exchanged.

CROATIA
Pennsylvania is home to the largest population of Croatians in the country with approximately 50,000 residents in the state. That’s down from the 200,000 that were living in the Pittsburgh area in the early 1900’s.  It is difficult to estimate just how many Pittsburgh area residents are of Croatian descent today because "Croatia" included other nationalities.  In Croatia, New Year's Eve is celebrated with parties in houses, hotels, discos and public squares. Lucky foods eaten include Sarma (stuffed cabbage), Pecenka (spit-roasted pig), Cevapcici (minced meat kebab), Ajvar (spicy relish), Burek (special bread with cheese), Za Nareske (cold cuts), Strudels, Savijaca Od Oraha (nut rolls) and so much more are also eaten on New Year's Day, according to the family's preferences. 

Christine Willard, a native of western Pennsylvania, researches and blogs about the food unique to Western Pennsylvania. She currently resides in North Carolina.  Her blog can be found at www.ThePAMeltingPot.com .


GREECE
























GREECE


Living in Greece
Explore Crete

RECIPES

Recipes from fathertimes

Greek New Year's Customs
GREEK NEW YEAR’S CAKE RECIPE

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vaselopita---greek-new-years-cake/




THE BALKANS


THE BALKAN PENINSULA
(FORMER YUGOSLAVIA)













Balkan Flags



















Traditional Serbian:

THE UKRAINE

(If you recall last year Russia raided The Ukraine and took over Crimea because it has a port and a large Russian population. The area is still occupied)


























The Ukraine Links

5 Best Ukrainian traditional foods

Timetable for Ukrainian New Year’s Day

Encyclopedia of Traditional Ukrainian Foods

Celebrating New Years and Christmas in the Ukraine

UKRAINIAN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS

Christmas Kutya Recipe

Top Five Ukrainian Christmas and New Year’s Dishes

All of Ukrainian holidays

Carol of the Bells VIDEO

Link to Ukrainian Christmas Videos

First Ukrainian Concert Video of 2015



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