Our Daily Bread

Part two of our series from Lydia on life in the Ukraine is here - and today we are looking for some break to wash that vodka down with.

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I was going to write about Ukrainian food but I didn’t get any further than bread when I realised that it deserves a blog of its own. This is perhaps because I was once traumatised as a child when I told my mother I didn’t like brown bread and got a resounding clip across the ear!

Since ancient times bread has held a special position in the cuisine of the Ukrainian people. Archaeological evidence shows that wheat, barley and millet were grown in Ukraine 3,000 years ago. Rye was introduced 2,000 years ago. The exceptional fertility of Ukraine’s soil and its climate contributed to Ukraine becoming the “breadbasket of Europe”.

Ukrainians are so obsessed with bread that it infiltrates every tradition and ritual. No significant family event can take place without it. Bread is used to bring divine blessings to the commencement of every farm task, the marriage ceremony, the birth of a child, and the move to a new home. Bread is also used at funerals and wakes to part with the dead. As a sign of hospitality, guests of honour at celebrations and public functions are greeted with a ceremonial offering of bread and salt. In the past even the preparation of the dough and the baking of the bread had their own ritual practices and were performed as mysterious, almost magical, acts. Today these rituals have lost their meaning but have been preserved in folk tradition.

There are a variety of ceremonial breads: braided bread (kalach) at burials and wakes; Easter bread (paska); bread with filling (knysh); intricately decorated wedding bread (korovai); sweet bread (babka); egg bread (bulka). Many kinds of pastries are popular: turnovers, doughnuts, strudel, poppy-seed rolls, sweet buns, tortes, layered coffee cakes, honey cake, rolls, and cookies.

My favourite was always paska – the Easter bread – possibly because of the blessing rituals which surround it. Paska, along with other goodies such as coloured eggs (pysanky), butter, salt, cheese and sausage, are packed into a picnic basket covered in beautifully embroidered cloths (vyshyvky) and brought to Saturday midnight mass to be blessed. As midnight mass tends to go for a substantial portion of the night, after the blessing, families take their blessed food (svyachene) home in time for breakfast. There are variations on that theme: in eastern Ukraine, they go home, place the svyachene on the table and the oldest member of the family opens the cloths in which the food is wrapped, slices pieces from each item and distributes them to members of the family. In the Hutsul region of western Ukraine, the people walk around the house three times, go to the stable, extend Easter greetings to the cattle, touch them with the svyachene, scatter pieces of Easter bread and salt in the manger and send holiday greetings to the bees.

That’s all good in theory and I’m sure it worked well for farmers.  But as children of Australian migrants, we eventually made our parents adapt to modernity by going back to bed at 5am after being up all night, sleeping till midday and then eating it all for lunch

 

A toast to horilka

Today is the first guest blog from one of our members, Lydia Bezeruk, a Ukrainian Australian. Lydia is going to be sharing some of her best tips about visiting the Ukraine with us all in the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy the series.

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Don’t even think about keeping up with a Ukrainian drinking vodka. These were the words of warning I uttered to my husband as we arrived in the village in western Ukraine to meet my relatives for the first time. Needless to say, he chose not to heed my warning and the rest, as they say, is history (That would be my family history, not yours).

There is no denying Ukrainians drink alot. According to 2010 WHO data (published in 2014), Ukraine comes 6th behind Denmark, Moldova, Lithuania, Russia and Romania in terms of liters of pure alcohol consumed per capita per year. (We need to note that we are not discussing rates of alcoholism, just the average consumption of alcohol within a country). So at least 5 other countries drink more than Ukrainians’ 13.9 liters per capita per year. Admittedly, nearly 50% of the 13.9 liters is made up of spirits – the ubiquitous vodka or, as it is known in Ukraine, horilka – a word that translates literally as “something that burns”.

Horilka is traditionally made from grain and references Ukraine’s traditional role as the “bread basket of Europe”, although different regions have been known to use different sources such as potatoes or beets, particularly if it is home-distilled – ‘samohonka’. Its alcohol content can vary between 35-80 percent by volume: it is basically water and pure alcohol. Sometimes flavourings are involved: pertsivka horilka is flavoured with honey and pepper (I make one with plums at home). But Ukrainians don’t do anything fancy with their horilka: martinis are neither shaken nor stirred; nor are bottles chilled in freezers. Ukrainians drink their horilka straight – in a shot glass or ‘charka’ – in one gulp – usually after a toast and a vociferous “na zdorovya” or “to your health” (of which not much remains after downing enough of the stuff). There are variations on how this is done: a favourite of mine was taught to me by a cousin in Sarny who places the shot glass on his elbow and lifts it to his mouth, drinks and returns his arm to its original position, all without spilling a drop. (Upon my return to Australia I introduced this drinking game to my family at our next Christmas lunch).

But we need to look at drinking in its cultural context. Ukrainians do not drink alone: it is a social event always accompanied by food (which will be the subject of my next blog). Even when my family decided to go for a walk after lunch to the local historical fort, my cousin’s husband carried with him not just a bottle of horilka (presumably so that we could toast the fort’s tenacity in standing for many centuries) but a loaf of bread. If nothing else is available, it is customary to follow a shot with a slice of bread. This cultural practice is so important, it is part of traditional Ukrainian wedding ceremonies: upon arriving at the reception, the bride and groom are greeted with bread and horilka of which they must partake before everyone is seated and the inevitable eating and drinking begins.

Drinking has been a cultural institution for many centuries and is passed down through successive generations. It is often said that it takes training, skills and knowledge (and maybe a hint of genetics) to drink horilka properly. Which leads me back to the original warning I gave my husband as we sat down to feast with my family. His English genetic stock did not prepare him for what was to come. Even after passing out, my cousins continued to prop him up on the couch and toast to his health. It was rather like watching a Ukrainian version of “Weekend at Bernie’s”.

You can read more about horilka here.

Europe, this is Kyiv Calling...

It's official, Ukraine has chosen Kyiv to host the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest!

The dates for the contest have been confirmed. Semi-final 1 will take place on 9 May, Semi-final 2 of 11 May and the Grand Final will take place on 13 May.

Kyiv will host the 2017 contest at the International Exhibition Center, the largest venue of its kind in Ukraine with capacity for 11,000 spectators. 

Love Is A Beautiful Song

In 1970 a song called LOVE IS A BEAUTIFUL SONG went to number 1 – the composer said in an interview the word LOVE is the most used word in a song titles so he wanted to do such a song. I think if we scan the titles of Eurovision entries over 61 years, the word LOVE will also win hands down, so let us look over the next month at 21 songs from Eurovision with the word LOVE in the title. I have picked 21 songs with LOVE in the title from 21 different countries and we will discuss it over the next month.
 
On the forum I will publish the cover of the selected song from my PROMO singles and you as forum users will have the chance to give some feedback – whether you like the song, hate it, what it means to you, if it has ever played a role in your love life etc. You then also rate the song on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 meaning you loathe it, 10 meaning you LOVE it).
 
Once all 21 love songs have been published, we will add up the points and see which is the MOST LOVED LOVE SONG.
 
To get us started please join us on the forum and suggest up to 5 songs with LOVE in the title that you think I have chosen. Remember there is just one per country so even if one country has 7 songs with LOVE in the title, I have picked just one. Also not all 21 songs are in ENGLISH, there are a few who have LOVE in their native language. A clue – the majority of songs are post 1990 – actually I do not think I have used any song pre-1990 because the pictures are all from CD covers and not VINYL covers.

Roy.

OGAE Rest of the World, can we have your votes please?

Recently we asked you all to rate the songs from this years Eurovision Song Contest. One of our members, Luc Spencer-Gardner, has channeled Jon Ola Sand and tallied the votes (read on to see the full results). Thanks to everyone who voted, and thanks to Luc for all his work pulling it together.  Over to Luc...

59 members provided their scores against each song, from zero to 10.  Here is the final tally:

Place

Country

Total Points

Average Score

1

Australia

546

9.25

2

Bulgaria

507

8.59

3

Russia

484

8.20

4

France

468

7.93

5

Austria

461

7.81

6

Iceland

420

7.12

7

Latvia

399

6.76

8

Spain

397

6.73

9

Armenia

390

6.61

10

Israel

384

6.51

11

Belarus

381

6.46

12

Ukraine

381

5.29

13

Netherlands

380

6.44

14

Czech

365

6.19

15

Malta

361

6.12

16

Lithuania

360

6.10

17

Belguim

358

6.07

18

Cyprus

350

5.93

19

Croatia

348

5.90

20

Hungary

347

5.88

21

Serbia

345

5.85

22

Poland

340

5.76

23

Italy

339

5.75

24

Norway

324

5.49

25

Sweden

316

5.36

26

UK

312

6.46

27

Estonia

291

4.93

28

Macedonia

290

4.92

29

Slovenia

289

4.90

30

Germany

284

4.81

31

Moldova

284

4.81

32

Denmark

282

4.78

33

San Marino

275

4.66

34

Ireland

273

4.63

35

Azerbaijan

271

4.59

36

Finland

258

4.37

37

Bosnia

245

4.15

38

Georgia

241

4.08

39

Albania

231

3.92

40

Switzerland

210

3.56

41

Montenegro

175

2.97

42

Greece

164

2.78

What a magnificent undertaking this was by the members.  And here are some interesting facts…

Of the 42 songs, 11 did not receive at least one 10 point score; while a massive 22 songs did not receive ZERO points (yes, this means at least 1 score of zero went to the other 20 songs).

And the song that received the most zero points?  Greece, with 10 out of the 59 voters giving this NIL POINTS!  Georgia received 6 and Montenegro received 5.  Our third place, Russia, receive 1 score of zero also!

From the lowest lows to the highest heights (thank you Switzerland… well, not thank you, that song was abysmal) – Australia received an enormous 35 ten point scores (out of a possible 59, that means 59% of the members gave Dami Im the greatest accolade they could).  Russia received 19, and Bulgaria received 16.

I could bore you to death with how many countries got how many of each 0-10, but here are some noteworthy facts instead (email me if you are really interested and I will provide as much details as you like)…

Australia, crowned the RotW favourite, did not receive a score lower than 6, and even then, only ONE… Which is why the average score for Dami was 9.25 (!)

Bulgaria, in second place, received one score of 3 points, otherwise would have had their lowest score as a 6 also… However, Poli did receive 5 of those.

While 13 may be unlucky for some – For Zoe from Austria, it was quite fortunate… she received 13 scores of 10 points, 9 and 8 points to earn her place in 5th. 

Ukraine, Overall winner of the ESC 2016, ranked at equal 11th for our club, which is a reasonable effort considering the spread of scores… Thirteen 10 points, and a reasonably even spread there on, including, much like their neighbour, 1 allotment of Zero points. 

It is always fascinating, when looking at 42 competing entries, to see songs which did not qualify for the final so high.  It is no surprise to many to see Iceland leap home into 6th position, there was a lot of hoopla when Greta was unsuccessful in the Semi Final… But for Belarus to score so incredibly well and come equal 11th … That IS a surprise, albeit a pleasant one!  Interestingly, these two countries are the only non-qualifiers in the top 23 for our club! 

Automatic qualifiers France (4th) and Spain (8th) hit our top ten, and we do not see another until Italy’s bizarre angry farm girl limps in at 23rd! 

Sweden’s hipster child star comeback only managed 25th, the United Kingdom’s brotherly love 26th, and Germany’s emo Harajuku Riding Hood lands equal 30th with non-qualifier Moldova!

And it would be right if I, of all people, did not make mention of the incredibly charming Serhat… Who received 3 scores of 10 points, 4 scores of ZERO points and 13 scores of 5! 

Finally – in keeping with the Olympic spirit (or something), here is a table with the countries who amassed the greatest number of individual scores (Naturally, Gold for the country who got the most, Silver and Bronze for second and third)… Although I am not sure any country would want the gold medal for receiving the most zeroes, but oh well…

Points/Medal

Gold

Silver

Bronze

10 points

Australia - 35

Russia -19

Bulgaria -16

9 points

Bulgaria - 23

Austria -13

Australia - 12

8 points

Iceland - 20

Belarus - 18

Netherlands and Spain - 15

7 points

Latvia - 15

Armenia, Malta and Norway - 14

Spain - 13

6 points

Slovenia - 16

Croatia, Cyprus and Hungary - 15

Spain - 14

5 points

United Kingdom - 16

Bosnia & Herzegovina - 14

San Marino - 13

4 points

Denmark and Estonia - 13

Ireland - 12

Serbia and Sweden - 11

3 points

Moldova - 14

Switzerland - 12

FYR Macedonia and Montenegro - 11

2 points

Albania and San Marino - 9

Greece, Switzerland and Montenegro - 8

Finland and Ireland - 7

1 points

Montenegro - 13

Greece and Switzerland - 12

Georgia - 7

0 points

Greece - 10

Georgia - 6

Montengro - 5

And then there were three...

The Ukrainian broadcaster (NTU) announced on 22 July that they had shortlisted three cities to host the contest in 2017. They are Kyiv, Dnipro and Odessa. A final decision will be made by 1 August.

At this stage there isn't really a clear front runner from the three cities. All of their bids have both strengths and weaknesses. There are a number of criteria the host city needs to meet - from having an appropriate (and available!) venue, sufficient hotel rooms and appropriate transport networks (both in the selected city and with international destinations to bring in participants and fans)

Between now and August 1st officials will be visiting the three shortlisted cities to inspect their facilities. It is expected that they will confirm the dates for the 2017 contest at the same time they announce the host city (it is currently tentatively scheduled for 9, 11 and 13 May 2017).

Points Opportunities

We know that many of you are keen to earn as many points as you can to cement your spot on the ticket list. We have a new opportunity for you over on our Earning Points page that will be open until midnight on 7 August.

Please don't forget that you can still comment on this years songs to earn points - either on our Facebook page or over on our sister website. You can comment on as many or as few as you want, and you will earn points for each song. This will remain open for all songs until July 31.

We look forward to hearing what you think of the 2016 songs!

Welcome to our brand new website

Welcome everyone!

ogaelogo_final_rasterized.jpg

If you are reading this, then we finally have our brand, shiny, new website for OGAE Rest of the World (ROW) up and running! We want this to be a place where you can come and interact with other Eurovision fans from all around the world.

I know you've heard us say it before, but our members come from all corners. We have people in Argentina and Australia, the United Stated and United Arab Emirates, Canada and Chile, Peru and Papua New Guinea. In fact, in 2016, we have members from 35 different countries!

So, what can you do here in our new home on the internet? Let me show you around...

You can check out some of the great entries our members have submitted for the Lonely Planet competition we have been running. There are some great stories in there of first Eurovisions, aviation chaos and it turns out we even have a poet in out midst!

We have our brand new Forum. Come, sign up, and start chatting with others from within the club. This forum is a great step forward for us as a group. Whilst we have loved interacting with everyone on Facebook, we do have a few non-Facebookers in our group, and we wanted somewhere more inclusive for members to interact. We will still do announcements on Facebook, and let you know when there is something new to see here, but we'd really like to shift the conversations over the forum.

For those who are not a member yet, we have pulled all the information you need to sign up for membership in one place. As they say - the more the merrier.

For those that are already members, we have set up a page to let you know the current opportunities to earn points. Our hope is that this will make it easier for members to find points opportunities and encourage greater participation. You can also check how close you are to that ticket list with the 2017 points table.

We have a number of spaces on website that are still a work in progress. We are pulling together a page dedicated to our members in Latin America that will provide content in Spanish. We also have a dedicated page for our South African fans, who are our single biggest country group. We also have a dedicated page containing membership information for our Russian speaking members. Over time, we will be expanding these pages to develop one for each region of the world represented by our members (so watch this space!).

We will also be updating our 2017 entries page once we start getting more information on national finals and participants, and some travel information on the host city once that is announced.

We always welcome our members getting involved, so if you have a story you'd like to contribute to our website - or even a great idea for a page that we forgot to include - please contact us at info@esccovers.com - we would love to hear from you.

The OGAE Rest of the World Board

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