Zinaїda, scientists of State Research Center of Protection of Cultural Heritage from Man-made Catastrophes and volunteers have sung shchedrivky in the Chornobyl exclusion zone

Traditionally, Zinaida’s initiative gathers together musicians, scientists and volunteers to sing Christmas carols known as Ukrainian folk songs shchedrivky in the Chornobyl exclusion zone.

This year, scientists of historical and ethnographic expedition under supervision of Rostyslav Omeliashko, professional authentic songs singers Anastasia Poletneva, Iryna Danyleiko, Natalka Leshchenko, Maria and Oleksandra Marchenko and others joined Zinaida to sing shchedrivky to those who have been living on the territory of deserted homeland. Even though wild nature has become a typical landscape of the zone, some people live in several villages, namely in Kupovate (15), in Oachechi (1), Teremtsi (5), Parysheve(1). These are local elderly people who still remember festive traditions of their region - Polissya. Every year, on “shchedruha” day, they fry pancakes (“ladky”) as gifts for singers, irrespective of the fact that it has already been 30 years since the time they heard shchedrivka in their village.

«Under the influence of the contemporary world, the tradition undergoes changes. It is only natural that this is urban culture, to which we also belong, that causes them. However, there are people for whom preserving their traditions, and traditions as a phenomenon itself, mean much more than supporting their existence in a usual environment, – says Zinaїda, - therefore, I decided that those customs and traditions that we treat as a part of routine should exist in a different form and in a different environment. During one of my expeditions to the Chornobyl zone of exclusion I realized that local people - those who made a choice to stay there and did not hear anyshchedrivky for more than 30 years - should finally feel joy from listening to them. This was a turning point for arranging a new cultural event. Creative people, like-minded individuals and simply friends gather together and with new participants who join us every year, we go to Chornobyl on Christmas holidays to bring village people joy and warmth of our hearts through the sounds of a song and silence».

Polissya’s land is a unique cultural and historical territory, Slavic motherland, which has preserved ancient cultural traditions with exceptional value for restoring ethnic history of Ukrainian and Slavic nations. On the current territory of the Chornobyl zone, in a fairy-tale like nature, there used to live people who brought the world unique folk art objects, which are now useful for inventions, customs and traditions restoration.
After the Chornobyl disaster, Ukrainian scientists of Center of Cultural Heritage Protection from Emergencies*, did everything they could to collect and preserve disappearing Polissya region folk culture. Now, thanks to legendary expeditions, volunteers from Kyiv with songs and gifts go to Chornobyl to reconstruct tradition of New Year “polaznik”, bringing festive mood to the homes of people in resettled villages.

*ZINAЇDA (1975, Kyiv,Ukraine) — Ukrainian artist, who concentrates in her art on images and myths revolving around women's questions and female identity in Ukrainian and world culture. She is a member of the art collective Con Artist Collective, New York, USA, and Food of War — international art collective of independent artists. Zinaїda participated as facilitator in Marina Abramovic: In Residence (Kaldor Public Art Project, Australia). She is also the founder and director of ArtRehub — a volunteer initiative to provide psychological rehabilitation for those people who suffered deep psychological trauma during the warfare which is still ongoing in Ukraine.

Zinaїda graduated from National Academy of Arts, Kyiv, Ukraine(BA in Fine Arts and Art History). She is a Member of the National Union of Artist of Ukraine.

**State Research Center of Cultural Heritage Protection from Man-made Catastrophes
  • 1991 foundation of historical and cultural expedition of Minchornobyl of Ukraine (since 1996 – Мinistry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine)
  • 2001 foundation of state scientific and production institution “Center of Cultural Heritage Protection from Emergencies” Мinistry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine.
  • 2007 foundation of State Research Center of Cultural Heritage Protection from Man-made Catastrophes , Мinistry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine.

Overall, while working in the disaster zone, complex historical and ethnographic expedition under supervision of Rostyslav Omelyashko covered 600 authentic polissya villages (among which 159 are located in the exclusion zone), and 97 villages of resettlers. Following the program of immovable historical and cultural artefacts inventory, nearly 500 settlements were examined and more than 1000 historical and cultural objects underwent inventory. As a result of such expeditions, 50 new archaeological artefacts have been discovered, in particular the settlement of Chornobyl town of 10-13th century.