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Narrative of the Familial Christmas Eve in the Childhood Recollections of Immigrants from Western Boykivshchyna: Anthropology of Memory

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The authors of the publication:
Kolomyichuk Oleksandr
p.:
54–68
UDC:
398.332.416:801.81-054.73(477.86/.87)
DOI:
https://doi.org/10.15407/nte2021.01.054
Bibliographic description:
Kolomyichuk, O. (2021) Narrative of the Familial Christmas Eve in the Childhood Recollections of Immigrants from Western Boykivshchyna: Anthropology of Memory. Folk Art and Ethnology, 1 (389), 54–68.

Author

Kolomyichuk Oleksandr

a Ph.D. in History, a young research fellow at the Ukrainian Ethnological Centre Department of the NAS of Ukraine’s M. Rylskyi Institute of Art Studies, Folkloristics and Ethnology.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2865-2396

 

Narrative of the Familial Christmas Eve in the Childhood Recollections of Immigrants from Western Boykivshchyna: Anthropology of Memory

 

Abstract

The article analyses the narratives of the Ukrainians forced resettled from the territory of Western Boykivshchyna during Operation Vistula in 1947, which are related to the familial traditions of Christmas Eve observance in their homeland. Territories covered by the study are northern and north-western Voivodeships of the Republic of Poland, where displaced Ukrainians have resettled, namely: West Pomeranian Voivodeship [town of Biały Bór, villages Kaliska and Dyminek (Szczecinek County), city of Koszalin (Koszalin County)] and Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship [towns Górowo Iławeckie (Bartoszyce County) and Pieniężno (Braniewo County), and the village of Szymbory (Gmina Godkowo, within Elbląg County)]. All informants are women born between 1925 and 1937. The narratives under consideration are related to the time when the interviewed respondents were mostly children, less often – teenagers, consequently they draw information about the ritual traditions of Christmas Eve observed in their families primarily from their childhood recollections. It should be added that currently direct witnesses of forced displacement live quite dispersedly in the Polish ethno-cultural environment, in fact, without creating separate communities of memorializing the people originated from the sub-region of Western Boykivshchyna.

Based on the methodological perspective, which considers memory as an instrument of cognition (Katarzyna Kaniowska), the article analyses the structure and semantic features of a text of narratives, as well as determines an interconnection between the content of memories and the mechanism of their recollection.

The analyzed fragments of texts from the narratives of displaced persons give an opportunity to comprehend the ways and mechanisms of reconstructing the familial ritual traditions on Christmas Eve observance in the memory of their authors. It is established that such customary-ritual actions, as spreading straw on the earthen floor, searching for nuts in it, ritual feeding of cattle, common introduction of ritual attributes into the house, a ritual-dialogue of a family’s male part with the female one, actually mark the festive-ceremonial space of Christmas Eve in the memory of immigrants’ childhood, which is simultaneously a part of the so-called collective memory of a family. At the same time, one of the cores of the remembrance process in adulthood is, in fact, a family tradition, which in the conditions of an alien linguistic and cultural environment acts as a catalyst for preserving one’s own ethnic me. However, the process of intergenerational transmission is disrupted due to the factors of the considerable dispersion of immigrants from Western Boykivshchyna at the familial level, a high degree of homogeneity of the Polish ethno-cultural environment, as well as owing to the departure of the older generation (parents of narrators), which acted as a retransmitter of an authentic ritual culture. In general, as we can see from the narratives of our storytellers, the rich familial traditions in celebrating Christmas Eve remain only a certain memory in myself / keeping memory to myself of the direct witnesses of Operation Vistula, and actually have little effect on forming a customary-ritual picture of the world of much younger generations of displaced persons.

 

Keywords

immigrants, childhood, narrative, memory, tradition, Christmas Eve, Western Boykivshchyna.

 

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