Ukrainian-Style Halloween Costumes

Issue 127, October 2019.
Ukrainian-Style Halloween Costumes
In Ukraine, the 31 October – 1 November dates has traditionally been celebrated mainly as All Saints’ Day, where people remember Christian martyrs and their loved ones that have passed on. More and more these days, young Ukrainians are following global trends, so it’s far easier to find evil spirits, vampires, zombies, ghosts, and other spillovers from the horror movie industry. 
Evil spirits and creatures have been outlined in many Ukrainian books – starting with kids’ bedtime stories like ‘Ivasyk Telesyk’ and going to more controversial and haunting pieces of literature like Gogol’s ‘Viy’ or ‘Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka’. Ancient Ukrainian beliefs warn that evil spirits lurk for people throughout the year – not just on Halloween. And some of them may even live in your house! So, to bring some Ukrainian flair to your Halloween costume – here are some ideas from Ukrainian mythology:
Did you know that the Barabashka is a Ukrainian poltergeist that lives in every house? Can’t find your keys, that matching sock, or your favourite book? Well, it was probably taken by your Barabashka. But don’t worry – it’ll give it back. Usually…
A Domovyk (house man) is a spirit that keeps order in the house. Actually, from Domovyk’s perspective – you live in HIS house. So, if you don’t keep it clean, you’re in for trouble! There are many ways to stay on the good side of your Domovyk. For example, leave some food near the stove or fireplace, which is where he likes to live. Try it out on Halloween!
A Komirnyk (storekeeper) is an evil and profit-driven spirit. You could summon the Komirnyk to your home and make a deal with it. Then, throughout his life, he’ll try his best to make you rich. But beware – after it’s owner’s death, the Komirnyk returns for his soul to take it to Hell!
Nichnytsi (night women) are demons that attack small children and bring them nightmares. According to Ukrainian legend, Nichnytsi resemble birds, bats, or could even look like worms. Occassionally they appear to children in the image of women with long black hair wearing black clothing. Nichnytsi may enter your house on Halloween through your window or door. And be sure to keep an eye on the bird nest in your back yard – they have a penchant for destroying them.
Rusalky (mermaids) are known as witches in Ukrainian culture. They are mostly found near lakes, rivers, or bogs and are disguised as beautiful women singing enchanting songs. Rusalky are known to lure and drown their victims, so be sure to stay on their good side. They are more commonly associated with the Ivana Kupala (Midsummer) holiday – a night where, much like Halloween, evil spirits walk freely and have special magic powers. People use this night for fortune-telling. For example, unmarried young women make flower wreaths for themselves and the rusalky to discover information about their future husbands and wedding days. 
Happy Halloween from the staff at Lviv Today!