Project “16 Days of Gratitude”: day 14

Day 14. Maironis in Kyiv

Even if he had visited the university for just a minute, he would have been given a commemorative plaque anyway. Today’s story will be about Jonas Mačiulis – Maironis (1862–1932), a Lithuanian poet, playwright, publicist, critic, teacher, theologian, and activist of the Lithuanian national revival. After graduating from the Kaunas Gymnasium, the 21-year-old Maironis, who had already begun to create poems, entered the Faculty of History and Philology of the University of St. Volodymyr in Kyiv. Note that he came to Kyiv 20 years after the January uprising of 1863: the memory was still alive among the community and teachers who had witnessed the event. As the Ambassador of the Lithuanian Republic to Ukraine Petras Vaitiekūnas noted at the opening of the memorial plaque on the building of the Institute of Philology of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University on November 13, 2012, “indeed, even one year was enough in this stormy Kyiv atmosphere, to be filled with knowledge and sense of national pride as he studied the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which interested him since high school.” However, at the request of his parents, already in the following year, in 1884, Maironis leaves Kyiv and returns to Kaunas to devote his whole life to Lithuania and become one of its revivers. In modern Ukraine, since 1990, there exists a Kyiv society of Lithuanian culture named after Maironis, which unites more than 400 Lithuanians living in the capital of Ukraine. The society contributes to numerous cultural events; before the war, they even started shooting a 25-minute documentary film “Kyiv addresses of Maironis – Vilnius addresses of Kobzar”. Unfortunately, the idea had to be postponed. Also, Saturday schools for learning the Lithuanian language are operating in Kyiv as well as the “Library of Lithuanian Literature”, which received the symbolic name “Skrynia”. Even more, on March 19, 2021, at the Institute of Philology of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, with the participation of the First Lady of Lithuania Diana Nausėdienė, the ceremonial opening of the Baltistics Center (Baltistikos centras) took place. This was a significant event for Ukraine, as it became the first Lithuanian scientific center in the country. By the way, the initiator of the centre was Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas which received support from the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Ukraine, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Lithuania, and Kyiv National University named after Taras Shevchenko. I brought you to Maironis‘s commemorative board today for a reason: just a few steps away, we will see a building where, almost for the first time in the post-Russian space, the words about an independent Lithuania were loudly heard.

Dr. Ruslana Martseniuk

Photos by dr. Ruslana Martseniuk

Project “16 Days of Gratitude”: day 13