In early April I reported on the launch of the Baltic Community group in Derby. At that meeting they started discussing an Easter event. Just 2 weeks later, and a lot of rushed preparation fuelled by the enthusiasm of uniting the Russian speaking peoples of Derby, some of that community celebrated Easter for the first time, together.
Historically, Normanton has been known as the heartland of the Pakistani and Indian community in Derby, however recent years has seem the migration of people from throughout Eastern Europe to that area. It was in the café of the local park, and its community centre, that the Baltic Community of Derby held their inaugural Easter event. It was an opportunity for people, and children, who shared the same native country, and in some cases, the same native city, but not the same shared space in their current home, to meet. The numbers had increased significantly from the first meeting as a result of the networking by Dmitrijs Sulojevs, Olegs Sotnicenko and their colleagues who volunteered to support this initiative.
It was not a grand affair, but it was appropriate, and it gave people the opportunity to eat, socialize and have some fun, with their children. The buffet was prepared to include the ubiquitous Easter eggs – which from their tradition were hard-boiled eggs, stained by onion skins, giving them a pleasant light mahogany appearance.
Some of the group had also been baking kulich (кули́ч) which is referred to as an Easter bread. It is only eaten around this period but as it contains elements of fruit, and drizzled with icing it tastes more like a cake. This is very traditional in the Orthodox Christian countries of the region. A small display was placed in the café which included Christian icons, candles and the sign Христос воскресе ( Christ is Risen).
Following the cutting of the kulich, there were the party games which, in most cases, had the egg as the central theme. There was the “egg and spoon” race, rolling the egg “bowls”, and a game which involved a relay of peeling the egg, and collecting the eggshell. These were interspersed with the sack race, and a toilet roll unravelling race ( I’m sure that it had a much more succinct Russian name).
As well as playing the games, the children had art and craft work to keep them occupied during the afternoon.
It was good to see so many people attend on this Easter Sunday, having a fun time. I’m sure that many connections were formed and future friends have been founded and for those who might have felt slightly isolated, before, it was an opportunity to feel more “at home”.
I look forward to seeing more of the Baltic traditions being highlighted in Derby, and, more importantly, the forum in which this community can support each other in many of the difficulties of daily life in Derby.