Worland couple reflect on Ukranian heritage, traditions

WORLAND — With grandparents who immigrated from the Ukraine, keeping many of the holiday Ukranian traditions has been a way of life for David Maslowski of Worland.

This year as he and his family plan for the Easter traditions, the plight of the Ukranians is ever present on his mind.

“We’ve been watching the news most every day on Fox,” David Maslowski said. “You feel terrible for the Ukranian people. They are really more closely with us Western folks, and I think that’s why [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is going in there, he doesn’t want that. ”

David’s wife Carla added that the Georgia people also do not consider themselves Russian and one of the main prayers for years was the conversion of Russia when they were in the Soviet Union.

The persecution Ukranians are facing with the most recent war is nothing new David said, noting the persecution during the Bolshevik Revolution. Carla added that millions of Ukranians were killed during the Holodomor (Ukranian Famine brought on by the actions of Joseph Stalin).

According to history.com, “The Ukrainian famine—known as the Holodomor, a combination of the Ukrainian words for“ starvation ”and“ to inflict death ”—by one estimate claimed the lives of 3.9 million people, about 13 percent of the population And, unlike other famines in history caused by blight or drought, this was caused when a dictator wanted both to replace Ukraine’s small farms with state-run collectives and punish independence-minded Ukrainians who posed a threat to his totalitarian authority. ”

David Maslowski said that as a Knights of Columbus member they have been praying for the Ukranians during the Prayers of Novena.


David Maslowski’s paternal grandfather, Nick Maslowski came to North American from the Trubchin village in Ukraine at the age of 12, according to a written family history. They arrived in New York on July 2, 1909 on the ship Argentina.

He and his mother, Maria Maslowski went to Billings County in the Gorham, North Dakota area to homestead. Nick married Hattie Rychkum in 1921 in Gorham, later moving to Fairfield, North Dakota and retiring in Belfield, ND David Maslowski’s father Carl was one of four children born to Nick and Hattie.

David was one of seven children born to Carl and Mary Maslowski. The family homesteaded in Wilton, North Dakota where David grew up.

Mary’s parents were Andrew and Geneva Dribnenki. According to the book “Dribnenki Family Favorites,” Andrew was born in 1896 in Wolkoce, Borshaw, Ukraine. His parents, Joe and Pearl Dribnenki emigrated to Alberta, Canada, when Andrew was 6 months old. Geneva’s family also emigrated to Canada and while both families eventually moved to the United States, Andrew and Geneva did not meet until later. Mary was one of 14 children born to Andrew and Geneva.

David said he did not know why the families originally immigrated from the Ukraine. “I’m sure there was persecution going on at that time, whether it was religious. A lot of the Ukranians are very religious. He said most people are Ukranian Catholic and are members of the Ukranian Eastern Orthodox Church.


Traditions are not just for the holidays, Carla and David met July 30, 1971, in Bismark, North Dakota, at a teen dance club. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Nov. 27, 2021.

The Maslowskis had a traditional Ukranian wedding, with David noting he was the only one of his siblings to have a traditional Ukranian wedding.

Traditional weddings used to be a three-day event. David and Carla’s was a two-day event, he explained.

David Maslowski said the musicians played at the house with a reception the day before the wedding, the day of the wedding included a dinner and a dance. Music during the first-day of festivities was provided from a hammered dulcimer and a fiddle.

The festivities also included the traditional drinking of the red eye shots (Everclear and burnt sugar) the evening before the wedding.

When there is a three-day event the third day includes opening presents.

David was a teacher in Newtown, North Dakota, after receiving his teaching certificate from Valley City Teachers College. He said he noticed that other people his age were going out working on the oil rigs “making beaucoup bucks and I was struggling as a teacher. ”

He left teaching and began working for Texaco in Roundup, Montana.

David said he was actually born in Billings, Montana on Christmas day, and thus the move to Montana was coming full circle in his life.

He added that being born on Christmas day gave him his full name David Joseph Maslowski. He said his mother loved to tell the story that they could not name him David Jesus so they named him David Joseph.

When David and Carla moved to Montana they had two of their three children, Katherine (Kitty) and Jesse (Jess). Andrew (Drew) was born in Roundup.

When Texaco sold property in Montana the family transferred to Powell in 1988 and then in 1994, Texaco sold more property and they transferred to Rock Springs where they lived for just over 12 years.

In 2001 Chevron purchased Texaco and they wanted to transfer David to Houston, Texas.

“I said this is as far south as I’m going to go,” David said. He stayed in Rock Springs and was later transferred in 2006 to La Barge as production manager, retiring in 2011. David and Carla came to Worland to be near Kitty and the grandsons.

“I took early retirement since I was battling prostate cancer and we wanted to move near Kitty and family,” David Maslowski said.

Carla noted that throughout their marriage she worked mostly in the medical field able to find jobs at each new location, in addition to raising their three children.

Once they moved to Worland, they began building their home out on West River Road; a labor of love that took five years, although Carla noted she just completed the guest bathroom last year.

Kitty and Mark have three sons – Sean, Will and Luke; Jess and his wife Heather live in Ranchester with their two children, Carter and Lily; and Drew and his partner live in California and are in the process of adopting a son.


When asked if this year’s Easter traditions will mean any more than usual because of what is happening in Ukraine David Maslowski said, “It is for me. I can’t imagine they can even celebrate their traditions right now.”

He grew up in the St. Peter and Paul Ukranian Eastern Orthodox Church in Willton, ND, where he served as an altar boy for many years.

“We had a lot of traditions there; it is a very traditional religion. We still practice some of those. As a matter of fact we have Easter coming up and we do cook our traditional Ukranian food.”

Some of that food consists of perogies (potato dumplings) and holubtsi (Ukranian stuffed cabbage).

He said they also have traditional Easter and Christmas songs.

“I don’t speak Ukranian but when I was growing up for catechism when we were kids we were taught Ukranian alphabet and I could speak a word or two here or there. The grandmas and grandpas still spoke Ukranian especially when they didn’t want In fact, when I was in grade school most of them were still speaking Ukranian, ”David Maslowski said.

He said some of his cousins ​​speak Ukranian but it “kind of got lost on our side of the family.”

Growing up in Willton, one of the traditions for Christmas for the Maslowskis was going Chrismas caroling, singing traditional Ukranian Christmas carols.

Another Christmas tradition on the farm, Carla Maslowski said, was to bring in straw and lay it underneath the table to simulate the stable where Jesus was born.


One of the fascinating traditions for Ukranians is the Easter eggs.

Carla Maslowski has embraced the traditions as some are similar to her German heritage. She added that she is also of Norwegian and Swedish descent.

She said the traditional pysanky (intricately decorated eggs) are done like a batik process where you wax with beeswax what you want to stay a certain color. After waxing you put the egg in a color bath, then wax the next part of the design. You put them in progressive baths with the whole process for one egg taking several hours.

David Maslowski said, “All of the designs have meaning, like a story on each egg.”

According to the book “Ukranian Easter” from the Maslowski’s collection, a pysanka egg is a raw egg that is never consumed.

Carla Maslowski remembered that David’s father gave them a pysanka egg with a rooster, which was a fertility symbol.

“That thing broke the next year,” she laughed. She added that fertility was also a topic of the toast from David’s godfather at their wedding which went something like “May your love soar like doves and multiply like rabbits.”

Wheat, a main product in the Ukraine was and is used a lot as far as symbolism on the eggs and in arrangements.

“Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe,” Carla said.

Designs on the pysansky can be geometric with repeating lines or “endless lines” symbolizing eternity, according to the book “Ukranian Easter.” Combs, rakes and fingers were signs of good husbandry. Plant designs have a variety of symbolisms. Animals have different symbolism. as well. The Ukranians also attribute symbolism to the colors used.

In addition to the pysanky, is the krashanka, hard-boiled egg dyed a single color.

The Ukrianians originally used all natural elements for dyes – yellow came from orange peels, pear peels, yellow onion skins or turmeric and means wisdom or harvest; orange came from yellow onion skins, chili powder and means strength or ambition; red came from beets, juice from raspberries or rosehips and red onion skins and means happiness, hope or passion; blue from red cabbage leaves means good health; green from fresh green leaves or herbs means hope and innocence; beige / brown from yellow onion skins, coffee or tea means happiness; other colors could be derived from cranberries, spinach and walnut shells, according to the book “Ukranian Easter.”

David Maslowski said they also follow the canned fish tradition on Good Friday.

He said they observe the traditional fast days during Lent and then on Good Friday, “we, and our kids laugh at us, have the traditional lunch, which is canned fish.” He said that includes sardines and smoked oysters and smoked trout that he smokes himself.

The Easter celebration actually begins on Psalm Sunday or Willow Sunday in the Ukraine. David Maslowski said Ukranians, with no palm trees in the Ukraine, use pussy willows. He has a pussy willow in his yard ready to bloom before Easter and he will pick some He said the church in Worland uses the palms for the Palm Sunday service.

According to the book “Ukranian Easter,” a pussy willow seen drawn on pysanky was also sometimes found with the traditional Easter greeting “Khrystos Voskres” written in Ukranian. The greeting is “Christ is risen.”

Then there will be the special lunch on Good Friday, Saturday is the cooking day and observing no meat. Sunday is the feast day and a Ukranian tradition in the Ukranian Orthodox Church is to have the priest bless the Easter baskets after Mass. The baskets would Carla Maslowski said one of the former priests at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Worland was a Ukranian Catholic priest and he blessed the Easter baskets.

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