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December 31 or January 13

Saint of the day:

Saint Melania the Younger

Ukraine: Malanka ("Melania's Day")

On the 7th Day of Christmas....
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Saint Melania the Younger's Story

(born in Rome c. 383, died in Jerusalem on December 31, 439) is a Christian saint and Desert Mother who lived during the reign of Emperor Honorius, son of Theodosius I. She is the paternal granddaughter of Melania the Elder.

The Feast of Melania the Younger is held on December 31 (the Julian calendar's December 31 falls on January 13 on the Gregorian calendar). In Ukraine, by Orthodox Christians, Malanka ("Melania's Day") is celebrated on January 13, and on December 31 by other Christians.

Melania was born to Valerius Publicola - the son of Valerius Maximus Basilius and Melania the Elder) and his wife Albina. She married her paternal cousin, Valerius Pinianus, at the age of fourteen. After the early deaths of two children, she and her husband embraced Christian asceticism and maintained a celibate life thereafter. Upon inheriting her parents' wealth, she donated it to ecclesiastical institutions and to the poor through anonymous intermediaries.[2] Melania and Pinianus left Rome in 408, living a monastic life near Messina (Sicily) for two years. In 410, they travelled to Africa, where they befriended Augustine of Hippo and devoted themselves to a life of piety and charitable works. Together they founded a convent of which Melania became Mother Superior, and cloister of which Pinianus took charge. In 417, they traveled to Palestine by way of Alexandria, living in a hermitage near the Mount of Olives, where Melania founded a second convent. After the death of Pinianus c. 420, Melania built a cloister for men, and a church, where she spent the remainder of her life.

Melania had "vast domains in Sicily" and also held land in Britain. She also owned grand estates in Iberia, Africa, Numidia, Mauretania and Italy. Gerontius describes one of her estates as follows: "On one side lay the sea and on the other some woodland containing a variety of animals and game, so that when she was bathing in the pool she could see ships passing by and game animals in the woods... the property [also] included sixty large houses, each of them with four hundred agricultural slaves."  Thus, this one property contained 24,000 slaves.









Megale Panagia Monastery in Jerusalem

Her cell, where she lived and her chains

The tomb of St. Melania in Jerusalem, where she died on December 31 in the year 439 (pictured at the bottom)





People wear traditional carnival costumes and masks, and visit local houses while singing carols, playing pranks or performing short plays.
This is a fun and light hearted event







Festive dishes

Traditional dishes of the day include krovianka (also called Malanka) – a sausage made of porridge with pig lard and baked festive bread representing main heroes of the day. Housewives used to prepare many treats like pen-cakes, dumplings, patties and cakes with curd, sweets and honey-cakes to welcome the guests coming to sing corals in the evening. As well as on Christmas Eve it is traditional to prepare kutia on Melanky Day. Schedra (generous) kutia is made with addition of butter, cream or milk.



HALUSHKI (cabbage, onions and dumplings)


  • 1 head cabbage

  • 2 onions

  • 1/2 stick butter


  • 1 egg

  • 1 c. flour

  • 2 T. water

  • pinch of salt


  1. Slice the onions and cut up the cabbage in the same fashion.

  2. Melt butter in skillet. Add cut up onions and cabbage. Cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes, or until browned. Add to dumplings.


  1. Mix flour, eggs, salt and water. Beat well until you have a medium type dough.

  2. Place dough on a plate and drop by spoonfuls into a pot of boiling salted water. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

  3. Strain and rinse with cold water.

  4. Place in pot and pour cabbage mixture over top. Mix well. Enjoy.




Ukrainian Honey Cake
(Russian Style - Medovik)


This honey cake is so soft and fantastic. The honey baked into the cake layers pairs perfectly with the simple sour cream frosting. For my own safety, I’ve been delivering quarters of this goodness to various family members and I’ve received rave reviews across the board. It stays amazing in the fridge for a several days (the longest we’ve tested was 4 days), so this is also a great make-ahead cake. Woot! It’s definitely a special occasion cake and will WOW your crowd, but it’s easier to make than typical Russian honey cakes that require a double boiler. This one’s not that sensitive, making it more attainable for everyone. Woot! Woot!


Cake Layers Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) honey

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 3 large eggs, beaten with a fork

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached, organic)


Sour Cream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 32 oz sour cream

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

For the topping:

  • 1/2 lb Fresh Berries, optional


How to Make a Honey Cake:

  1. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter to a medium sauce pan and melt them together over medium/low heat, whisking occasionally until sugar is melted (5-7 mins). Don’t put them over high heat or they may scorch to the bottom. 

  2. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and while it’s still hot, add in your beaten eggs in a slow steady stream while whisking vigorously until all of your eggs are incorporated (whisk constantly so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs).

  3. Whisk in the baking soda until no lumps remain, then fold in your 3 cups flour 1/2 cup at a time with a spatula until the dough reaches a clay consistency and doesn’t stick to your hands. Mine took exactly 3 cups flour (measured precisely, scraping off the top of the cup).\Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and move on to the next step right away (these roll out best when the dough is still warm)

  4. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece out into a thin 9″ circle (about 1/8″ thick). You can sprinkle the top with a little flour too to keep dough from sticking to your rolling pin. Place a 9″ plate or base from a springform mold over your rolled dough and trace around it with a pizza cutter to get a perfect circle. Keep the scraps for later. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper and bake 2 at a time at 350˚F for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before stacking. Repeat with remaining layers.

  5.  Finally bake the scraps separated evenly on a re-used sheet of parchment.Once the scraps are baked, cooled and firm, you can crush them with a rolling pin or pulse them in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.

Tips for Success: Roll out the next layers while the first ones are in the oven and total combined baking time shouldn’t take more than 25-ish minutes. Some of mine bubbled up a little on top which is fine since after it’s frosted, it won’t make a difference. I deflated any real whopping bubbles after they came out of the oven. Oh and I re-used my parchment paper (because I’m frugal that way).

If you don’t have a baking sheet large enough to place the parchment paper on, just bake directly on the rack (that’s what I did!)

How to make the frosting:

  1. Beat 1 cup heavy cream until fluffy and stiff peaks form (1-2 min on high speed).

  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together 32 oz sour cream with 2 cups powdered sugar. Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream and you have your frosting. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling your Cake:

  1. 1. Spread about 1/3 cup frosting on each cake layer (don’t skimp on it since the cake needs to absorb some of the cream to become ultra soft. Press the cake layers down gently as you go to keep the layers from having air gaps. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

  2. Dust the top and sides with your breadcrumbs, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This cake needs time to absorb some of the cream and soften, so be patient. It’s worth the wait!



Ukrainian Honey Cake


  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 cup honey (wild flower, or clover, not buckwheat)

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground

  • 1/2 tsp cloves, ground

  • 1/4 tsp allspice, ground

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Chopped nuts (optional)

  • Powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Beat eggs and sugar until thick.

  2. Add vegetable oil, honey, and sour cream.

  3. Beat well.

  4. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, & allspice.

  5. Gradually mix it into the liquids.

  6. Add vanilla, and mix well.

  7. Grease and flour two loaf pans, or a 9 x 13 sheet cake pan
    (I use the sheet cake pan).

  8. Preheat oven to  350 F.

  9. Pour batter into the pans. Sprinkle nuts over top (optional).

  10. Bake on the middle oven rack for 40-50 minutes.

  11. Remove from the oven, and cool in pans for 10 minutes.

  12. Remove from pans onto wire rack, and cool completely.

  13. Cut to serving pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar,
    or If you decide to make it into a torte, this is the time to cut it
    into layers, and spread you favorite filling.

  14. Wrap the torte in foil, or saran wrap, and keep it refrigerated,
    until ready to serve.

  15. Honey cakes also freeze very well, but you need to wrap it in
    paper towel, then foil, then freezer plastic bag. Thaw in the fridge a day
    before serving, all wrapped, to preserve moisture.


You can turn this plain honey cake into a torte, by cutting horizontally
in half, or more layers, and layer it with your favorite butter icing. 
You can frost the sides as well, but it will be fine just leaving them plain, and pouring chocolate or vanilla glaze over the top and letting it drip down the sides. Once the three sections are separated, the plain one is sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.

One section is layered with two layers of white frosting flavored with Bailey's Irish Caramel Cream liquor, topped with chocolate ganache.

Another section is layered with one layer of rum flavored chocolate icing, and topped with chocolate ganache.



Ukrainian Honey Cake

  • 1.5 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp ginger

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup strong coffee

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil


  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 2 Tbsp honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Sift flour, soda, baking powder, spices, and salt together into a bowl.

  3. Whip the eggs until thick and light, about 5 minutes, gradually adding the sugar.

  4. Beat in honey, coffee, and oil.

  5. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until combined.

  6. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and
    bake ~ 30min, until toothpick comes out clean.

  7. Let cool a few minutes and unmold. 


  1. Mix together all the icing ingredients until it forms a thin paste
    and drizzle over the cake to give it that honey tea with lemon flavor.

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