They are incredibly energetic and bright, they are real stars of the native village and the festivals of winter customs in Novoselytsia or Chernivtsi. And they are on the verge of life and death.
In Kostychany, entire dynasties of Malankars passed through the folk ensemble "Calusarii". Bright "horses" is a trademark of Malanka of Kostychany. Their costumes weigh up to 30 kg, but how easily the guys dance in them! Another local detail is a boy who represents the baby Jesus. At the end of the performance he is thrown to the sky. These are elements of the ancient local tradition "Irodul" (it is a little bit similar to the Vertep, Ukrainian nativity folk theatre, which presents the nativity scene), which is no longer practiced as it used to be. Horse dancing is only a small part of this folk theater.
Let me remind you on occasion that the Christian nativity scene has absorbed many elements of pagan ritual of Malanka and there are cases when the nativity scene is not easy to separate from Malanka.
According to the old custom, horses go out on village streets twice a year: on the night before the New Year and on St. Basil day on January 14.
But in recent years, the tradition has begun to disappear. That's because the high price for the orchestra's services. Malankars can't always pay for music, and without music there are no horse dances. Really sad story.
Old photos — by Serhii Barbuta.