International Mother Language Day is marked by UNESCO on Feb. 21, which coincides with Ukrainian Language Day. This year Kyiv’s House of the Teacher hosted a festive soiree called “Mama’s Song in Our Hearts Forever,” devoted to the Ukrainian lullaby.
“A person’s development begins from a mother’s song and heart. Only a mother’s word can fill a child’s soul with goodness. No wonder there is a song that goes, ‘A lullaby, a cradle song, is a happy mother tongue,’” says Raisa Kobchak, the director of the Svitoch Choir. “I so want all the children of Ukraine to fall asleep to their mothers’ lullabies. Toddlers are totally unprotected in our society, while a mother’s song is a talisman that protects against all things bad.”
“Don’t forget to sing a lullaby to your children at night, don’t shy away from this multifaceted and invaluable treasure that our ancestors have left us,” says Zoia Ruzhyna, poetess and Meritorious Worker of Culture, appealing to all mothers. “Lullabies used to be sung in both princely chambers and peasant huts. Nobody ever shied away from a song, because it raises people who are sound in both mind and body.”
The Ukrainian people have created myriad lullabies throughout their history, so contemporary mothers have something to choose from. Naturally, only one-hundredth of all the lullabies that our people know were sung during the mother tongue celebrations, such as “Sleep Is Walking near the Windows,” “Let Me Hang the Cradle on a Guelder-Rose Tree,” “A Quiet Evening Falls on the Earth,” “My Mother Rocked Me on a Guelder-Rose,” “The Sun Is Going to Bed,” “Nightingale, My Son,” and many others.
Anna Zakletska, the winner of national and international competitions, and Anton Prokhorenko, a student at Kyiv’s Ushynsky City College, sang lullabies they had composed. The guests enjoyed the performance of the ensembles from Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University and Kyiv Karpenko- Kary University of Theater, Cinema, and Television. The audience gave a thunderous round of applause to the Bliss of Inspiration, a family duo (Iryna and Dmytro Holovach), Rosava, and Nina Matviienko.
“There are happy mothers and unhappy one,” Ms. Matviienko told the audience emotionally. “An unhappy mother curses the day and the hour her child was born. Do you remember Shevchenko’s words ‘Sleep, my baby, sleep, my son, you will go across Ukraine, cursing us’? So I wish for only happy mothers on earth, who will sing lullabies to their babies. These songs are the laurel and the guardian of family happiness. So be happy in a lullaby.”