TO FATHER KHMEL! JANUARY 6, THE BIRTHDAY OF BOHDAN KHMELNITSKY
Truly, there are individuals in each nation's history, whose biography merges with the myth. And this is not due to the lack of documents, but because such people came out of nowhere when a nation is on the verge of heavy trials in order to put it out from non-existence to the rank of subjects of history.
For Ukrainians, such a figure is Bogdan Khmelnytsky. In the middle of the XVII century, Ukraine had quite sad prospects: the ancient noble families repudiated the ancestors' faith, ie they had gradually assimilated. Vast part of that time Ukrainian Orthodox clergy and gentry had been comforted by the privileges granted by Warsaw and had generally abandoned the ambitions of the Rus statehood restoration. And we don't even mention the issue of growing dominance of moneylenders of well-known nationality, who had been gradually occupying the economic space of that time in Ukraine.
Such situation, unfortunately, is typical of our history. But, just as today, there were be plenty supporters of its preservation. Let me explain. Back the middle of the XVII century all innermost desires of contemporary Ukrainian EU optimists could came true, namely - European integration in its pure form, there would be neither Byzantine Orthodoxy nor Cyrillic, society could develop with influence of progressive bourgeois reforms. Well, actually, under such circumstances Ukrainians as an authentic nation had equal chances to disappear, as under Moscow rule, but who cares, right?
Bohdan Khmelnytsky was the one who came to change such course. Since now historians have not reached a common conclusion whether the date of his birthday (January 6 - the Orthodox Christmas Eve) is correct or the people's consciousness had given its archetypal hero the birth date of the Nativity of Christ and the Last Supper.
Hetman Khmelnytsky was probably the only Ukrainian leader since the Rus' statehood collapse, who has managed to bring the folk out of caos. By gathering Ukrainians into a single fist, and thus transforming the deadly paradigm of history, he managed to bring our people into the history arena as a player, not as a bargaining chip.
If at the beginning of Khmelnitsky-arranged national liberation war - which eventually got the name of 'Khmelnitchina' - it was supported only by cossack gentry and peasantry, then on the slope of the Hetman's life on its side were old princes' families, such as the Nemirich family, who had even returned back to Orthodoxy. The noblemen of Pinsk had sworn to the Hetman and the Zaporizhian Cossack Army, insurrections in support of Ukraine's Cossack army had been takin place all-over Ukrainian ethnic lands, including Bukovina, Lemkivshina, Galicia.
In fact Khmelnitsky had implemented was unthinkable before - he involved the society's working strata into a warrior caste, the soi-called "pokozachennya," and what's more - he managed to cultivate knightly virtues in them. Ukrainian peasants hadn't been involved to army through military conscription, as later it was in post-revolutionary France, but became part of the hereditary military stratum.
In the Khmelnichina course, a real social revolution was carried out, when control over property was returned to the hands of ethnic Ukrainians. At the same time Khmelnitsky had managed to remove moneylanders from all-over the lands, subbordinated to Hetman, which can be concidered as a sign of a genuine Ukrainian revolution!
Since the uprising under the leadership of Father Khmel (as common people had called the Hetman), the Cossackship has became a synonymous with Ukrainie in general from Galicia to the Dnipro lands and Slobozhanshina stepes. All Ukrainian culture and state tradition of early-modern and modern period were associated with the Hetmanate. The Khmelnichina was a historical act, that became the salvation of our people, a breakthrough, a flash (Ereignis by Heidegger), a restoration of our being in history.
As for geopolitics, it must be noted that Khmelnitsky had never made groundless steps. Any diplomatic relations with the Polish Kingdom, Moscowy, Transylvania, the Ottoman Empire, Sweden, etc. had a clear goal and usually were aimed to broug the most possible and necessary result for Ukraine. As befits an archetypal hero, Bohdan Khmelnytsky's burial place is unknown. Some legends say that his grave was destroyed by enemies, others - that the Hetman's brothers moved his ashes into a secret place.
In general, this is quite typical plot of every national leader, who have outgrown his historical figure and became a myth. So German Emperor Barbarossa expecting expecting for own awakening, and so St. Feodosiy Pechersky did not allow his sinfull followers to reach his relics. Probably Bohdan Khmelnytsky is waiting for a right time when we, his descendants, will become worthy to do our Christian honors on his grave.