For a long and frigid 24 hours in the dead of the Ukrainian winter, motley gangs of costumed celebrants roam the small village of Krasnoilsk, visiting every house and collecting money in exchange for their symbolic skits of good against evil and humanity's triumph over nature. With both pagan and Orthodox roots, the boisterous carnival of Malanka begins on the night of January 13, when residents, mostly young men, meet in the neighborhood leader's back yard to feast and prepare for an overnight rally. Each man is dressed as one of the traditional Malanka characters " which often include Gypsy, Bear, Old Man, Old Woman, Horseman, Prince and Witch " and performs his particular role with great enthusiasm.
By the next afternoon, tired troupes from Sus, Trazhan, Putni and other neighborhoods gather in the main square to compete for the coveted title of Malanka of the Year. The annual event in Krasnoilsk and other villages in the Bukovina region near the Romanian border attracts hundreds of visitors, but true to the spirit of Malanka, residents remain completely unfazed by the presence of outsiders during the celebration.