2015: Orthodox christmas in Kiev
Don’t Stop the Train - or Christmas in Kiev
Whoever thought that our gathering in Berlin in November would conclude our joint adventures was wrong. Shortly after the celebrations all wagon members did receive an invite from Igor, our orthodox priest from Kiev and member of our wagon, to join him and his Scouting friends for the celebration of orthodox Christmas in Kiev in early January 2015.
A few phone calls later Sandra, Sputnik and Hans had booked flights to the Ukrainian Capital, a first to all of us.
And what a warm welcome already at the airport, Igor, Masha (from Kiev) and Tanja, a German speaking interpreter, welcomed us before we were invited to a typical Ukrainian Restaurant for dinner. Here we met with Andreas and Nastia as well as father Vladimir - Scouts - and we had an introduction to excellent hearty food. Even though our hosts could not join us too much in the feast, as they were still in Lenten Season (from the end of November until and including Christmas Eve) we immediately fell in love with Ukrainian Cuisine.
Igor had booked a furnished three bedroom apartment for us and even put up the German flag to make us feel at home. A fridge filled with all kind of goodies was prepared for breakfast - just perfect.
In the morning of Christmas Eve (6.1.2015) we started our tour through this beautiful city of Kiev, home to two UNESCO Heritage Sites. And our first point of interest was one of them, Petscherska Lawra. This impressive
Monastery build during the 11th through 19th century resides on top of a hill, overlooking Kiev and the river Dnepr. We went on during chilling temperatures, wind and light snowfall passing the Holodomor Memorial, remembering 5 Million victims during a 1932 starvation period caused by the Soviet regime to compensate for bad harvest periods and a lack of foreign currency, saw a war monument and government buildings before we reached Maidan Square. It was only a year ago when hundreds of young people were killed here and dozens of pictures, candles and posters reminded us of this. Somewhat subdued did we receive a Restaurant filled with memorabilia of Soviet Times, 25 years ago. Her we met further Scouts and enjoyed great food and good talks. Back in the cold we walked on towards Saint Sophia Cathedral, the second World Heritage Site in town, passing a Christmas Market. Impressed again by the wonderful architecture and good condition of the cathedral, St. Michaels Cathedral was next close to the huge foreign ministry. Another look towards Dnepr in the freezing cold and two minutes later a Funicular took us down to the lower part of town from where we went back to the apartment.
A sightseeing Tour of Kiev at night was the beginning of our Christmas Eve Celebrations followed by a great family and friends dinner in the home of Andreas, one of the local Scouts. Great discussions from Scouting to World Politics, family history and who knows what made this a very special evening amidst our new friends.
As services in the Orthodox Church are known to last for hours of standing up, arrangements were made for us to join towards the end. Our Scouting Friends call a small beautifully decorated church building their own, situated on the training grounds for scouts and rescue teams.
After our introduction to approx. 70 scouts and their parents we had the honor to take the scouting promise from nine new scouts including some adults and hand out their respective scarves. We hope that our personal long-term scouting was an inspiration to the young ones true to our ScoutingTrain Motto: “Once a Scout - Always a Scout”.
A blessing by “our” two priests Igor and Vladimir concluded the service and we were invited to join the Christmas feast. Many good discussions with the scouts about Scouting Skills, Fundraising and our very own scouting experiences concluded the afternoon in next to no time.
Thank you Igor and all our new Scouting friends - you made this a most memorable Christmas to us!
Sandra, Sputnik, Hans