Monday, February 28, 2022

A Bit of History

 


In the 1760s Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, extended an invitation to Mennonites living in Prussia (Poland) to take up farming in the rich lands of Ukraine. Mennonites were of Dutch Anabaptist heritage, adhering to pacifism and adult baptism. Catherine enticed them with promises that they could keep their language (German), build their own schools and churches, and be exempt from military service. She also granted them large parcels of land to boost national food production.

The Mennonites flourished in Ukraine. Enormous and prosperous farms contributed to Catherine's vision to modernize Russia. Although the Mennonites kept themselves apart from the fabric of Russian society, they contributed economically. 

As new rulers took the place of Catherine, the rights granted to the Mennonites were gradually eroded. Some families left the country in the 1870s and settled in parts of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and South America. After the Russian Revolution after World War I, the fabric of their society was torn apart. Many, many Mennonites emigrated, and among them were both of my grandfathers. My grandmothers, also Mennonites, were born in Canada, from families who had left earlier. 

In the 1970s my maternal grandfather took a trip back to the Ukraine to see his former home. After more than 50 years, there was little left, although he recognized the place where his family's home once stood. Once again, the Mennonites had moved on. 

Although the Mennonites didn't integrate into the fabric of Ukrainian culture, there are bits and pieces gathered through the years that have remained. Food traditions are one. Vareniki (also known as pierogi), borscht, holupchi (cabbage rolls), and other dishes are ones I grew up with, and make today for my family. Ukraine was good to my forefathers and mothers, and I stand with her in these desperate times. 


31 comments:

  1. This is the history of my father's family. I always thought they were in Russia, but now lately I am realizing it was more Ukraine. There is a small town in Kansas that has many settlers still living there with a small museum. Once a year they have a festival where I was introduced to some of the food you mentioned. Interesting history.

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  2. oh, you have Ukranian roots. I can’t concentrate on much else than on following the news about Ukraine πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ Finland has a looooong common border with Russia andopinion polls say that 53% of the people are in favor of joining the Nato. Before the Russian attack the procentage was 30. This attack is tragic and totally incomprehensible.

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  3. Fascinating to hear your history and heartbreaking to think of the suffering in Ukraine through the years. B x

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  4. How intersting tonhave that history as part of your background.

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  5. A fascinating and touching bit of history.
    We stand with the brave Ukrainians.

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  6. I have just watched a Ukrainian journalist from the Ukraine recounting terrible scenes witnessed, especially with regards to mothers and children. She was pleading with the British Government to create a no fly zone. and send in our planes. However,the consquences of that would be absolutely dire for the whole world. We are all aware of what Putin is capable of carrying out.

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  7. This is a wonderful post. It is so shocking.

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  8. Thank you for the history lesson. I didn't know that. My heart is broken for what they are going through.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this history and your place in it. I think that the tendency is to forget the human faces and stories beneath the politics of war. My heart breaks for the people . . .

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  10. I appreciate you taking the time to explain some of the history of Ukraine and about your family origins. It's a time for us all to join in prayer. It makes some of our squabbles seem so petty. Hugs, Diane

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  11. Hi Lorrie, We are related!

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  12. It what wonderful heritage and traditions for your family. The world is watching these atrocities with horror. I wish there was more we could do.

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  13. I never knew that about the Mennonites in Ukraine. I'm praying for peace.

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  14. Thank you for sharing, Lorrie. History is the story of the people, as this so aptly illustrates. Praying for the people of Ukraine.

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  15. My pics in my today's post,
    are from an article,
    why sunflowers are so important
    to the Ukranians.

    To see why I have Sunflowers as my Sig. Line,
    please read my 3/1/22 post.

    🌻 🌻 🌻 🌻 🌻 🌻

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  16. Praying for Ukraine and her people.

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  17. History I was unaware of and very much appreciate learning. It is so much easier to learn history when it is personalized. Thank you for the perfect post for this terrible time. We also stand with the people of Ukraine.

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  18. Wonderful post ~ TFS!

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  19. Lorrie, the stack of books in your lovely previous post reminded me of something I had been meaning to tell you about for quite a while based on one of your older posts ... I e-mailed it because it was all too long for a comment .. I hope you don't mind!!

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  20. Did you read Days of Terror by Barbara Smucker? It was such an interesting book for teaching
    Mennonite immigration to students. My dad used to have a farm in Chilliwack and my brother lives in Sardis so we've always know about the Mennonite people. My prayers for Ukraine.

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  21. I did know about Germans in Ukraine and Russia, but not about the Mennonites. Thank you for sharing this part of history and thus your family's history. I am so very saddened what is happening, but also furious and angry. I wonder whether "your" cabbage rolls are similar to the ones my mom made.

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  22. Lots of fascinating history connected to the Ukraine. We are standing with Ukraine, too! Prayers up and fervent.

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  23. A good and historic post Lorrie! Praying for the Ukraine.

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  24. Love the history, of which you so ably wrote Lorrie. Praying for the Ukraine.

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  25. Both of my parents were born in the Ukraine and came to Canada as children.

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  26. Thank you for this post.
    I too am so saddened to see what is happening.
    I prayer for all caught up in this and hope peace will come again soon.

    All the best Jan

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  27. A tru1y wonderful post

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  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  29. Lorrie - thanks for sharing this history, which I didn't know, and for your family's heritage. It is heartbreaking to see what is happening in Ukraine, and stirring to see the bravery of the citizens. We can only pray that the sanctions and all of the other efforts will bring Putin down.

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  30. I have thought a lot about this history recently. Thank you for sharing this.

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