Diaspora

One day in the life of Roma from Boryslav

In Boryslav with a population of 30,000, which has long been considered a city of three cultures – Ukrainian, Jewish and Polish, Roma also complement the triptych of the city’s local history. And although Roma communities are almost never mentioned in the context of the locality of Boryslav, they have lived here for a long time.

Even if they know almost nothing about themselves. And their roots.A small private estate in Boryslav on Lesniana Street is no different from all the other houses located in this neighbourhood of the city. There is a low wicket. An old car is in the yard. Vasyl Kazymyrovych, the owner of the house, meets us at the door.

Vasyl Kazymyrovych Horniak is a little over forty. He belongs to the Polish Roma ethnic group. Most of his relatives lived in Poland before the Second World War, but it is almost impossible to find them today. There are no contacts, no documents either. Vasyl Kazymyrovych is a native Roma of Boryslav, at least that’s what he calls himself.

His family consists of six children, his wife Viktoriia and brother Petro. He has a cozy house in Boryslav. Faith and religion is of great importance for him.Talking about his own family traditions, Vasyl Kazymyrovych emphasizes that they are primarily connected with Christianity. However, there are almost no traditional Roma customs left in the Horniak family.

Christmas and Easter are one of the main holidays for the Horniak family. They celebrate modestly and without loud feasts. The peculiarity of Christmas traditions is almost no different from Ukrainians: all 12 dishes are put on the table. Before the meal, they pray to thank God for the day and ask for new favours and graces.

Vasyl Kazymyrovych says that almost no Roma traditions have been preserved in Boryslav today, and children speak the Romani language less and less. They remember only two or three words. Everything is slowly receding, old people are passing away, and the younger generation no longer remembers how it used to be. The only thing that hints at the Roma origin of the Horniak family is a slight Roma accent when Vasyl Kazymyrovych speaks to his children in Ukrainian. And the black eyes of the youngest son.

Author: Marianna Maksymova

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