Keeping Ukrainian heritage alive with debutante ball

Keeping Ukrainian tradition alive with debutante ball

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A tradition more than a century old took place in Rochester on Saturday night: A Ukrainian debutante ball.

The ball, held at the Holiday Inn on State Street is a way to introduce young Ukrainian ladies to the Ukrainian community as adults. The ladies usually are in grades 10 through 12.

In light of the war in Ukraine, which has been raging for almost two years now, old traditions like these are only becoming more meaningful.

“I have spoken to a lot of the new immigrants who are completely and utterly in awe of how much Ukrainian we still have in America. Under Soviet rule they’ve lost a lot of their Ukrainian traditions, so for them coming here, seeing that we’re keeping the traditions alive, they’re blessed,” said Katya Kowal, chairperson of the Chervona Kalyna Debutante Ball.

The debutante ball tradition started in Ukraine in the early 1900s and was brought over to New York in the 1950s.