Malanka Saint. Basil’s the Great Day New Year’s Eve perhaps derives its name Malanka from the following folk tale collected by the Ukrainian ethnologist Osip Fedkovich (1834-1888): Once upon a time there was The Creator Praboh, who had four sons and one daughter. His daughter is our mother Earth, who was named Lada. The first son, who fought with his father God and his brothers and sisters was the chief of hell, the Devil. (Yar-Yarylo) St. George, was the second son and the third was Rai who was later identified as St. John. The youngest and fourth son was Lad or Myr (Peace). THE SUN ITSELF was called Svyatovydam (All-seeing) and was considered a knight and hero in a golden cloak, with seven swords at his side and an eighth in his hand. He rode around the earth on white horses. The daughter Lada (Earth) had two children, a son which was the Moon (Knias Misyats) and a daughter Spring-May who was later called Mylanka because she was loving (myla) to the whole world. It was she who covered the world with flowers and greenery every May. Because the Evil One did harm to everyone, he as defiant enough to desire to take Malanka (Mylanka) to his underground kingdom. He finally stole her at a time when her brother, the Moon, was hunting. But she was eventually freed by him and under the name of Basil they were married. While she was absent from the world, there was no Spring. Spring finally came when she, Malanka, returned to Mother Earth. So the celebration of Malanka symbolizes the beginning of Spring being released from captivity and on her arrival bringing the flowers and greenery to life again. This tale is clearly similar to that of Persephone in Greek mythology who was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. In Latin she was known as Proserpina.... http://www.uast.org/malanka.htm What was done at Malanka and I did not see done at weddings was dressing up as the spirits of dead vegetation, as various witches, goblins, etc. In addition to the masquerading, plays are performed at Malanka, including a Punch-and-Judy slap-stick version of puppet theater (as opposed to the more serious vertep, which usually has a religious theme) and there are various games and fortune-telling. One of the games, where a palianytsia (a semi-sweet bread shaped like a huge donut) is tied to the rafters and people stand on a stool or jump and try to bite a piece off of it might be useful in a western setting. http://www.uast.org/malanka.htm