So, why people in Ukraine celebrate 2 New Years? The first one follows the Gregorian calendar and falls on January 1st when Ukrainians join in with the rest of the world in the craziness of fireworks and midnight parties. The second one follows the Julian calendar and falls on January 14th, leaving plenty of time to rest after the all-night dancing of the first New Year’s Eve and do it all over again. The second time, however, Ukrainians have many traditional ancient customs on Old Calendar New Year and hold the vibrant ‘Malanka’ celebrations.
Read: New Year and Christmas Traditions in Ukraine
January 14th (January 1st, Old Style) Christian Church commemorates St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea Kappodakiyskoyi. In ancient times, this day was called St. Vasylya day.
The eve (now January 13th) is called Shchedry Vechir (Generous Dinner Evening).
On Shchedry Vechir Ukrainians enjoy most delicious home-cooked dishes: pies, sausage, meat, pancakes, drink wine and strong liquors. Kutia is mandatory for the New Year's table. Children on Old Calendar New Year go from door to door and sing Christmas carols in exchange for candies and chocolates.
Read: Traditional Ukrainian Christmas Dishes
January 14th is «Malanka» celebration day. On this day crowds of young people are walking from household to household, caroling, playing pranks and acting out small Christmas-related plays. According to tradition, it is lucky for the first person to enter each room in a house to be a man or a boy. Once the man or boy has entered the room, he throws buckwheat or grain onto the floor and recites a rhyme wishing good luck and happiness for the upcoming year. Then as thanks, the men or boys get small gifts such as candies or UAH 1 bills. The last part of this tradition is that you may not clean up the buckwheat grains until the next day, or else you will sweep away your good luck. Some single guys dress up in women’s clothes and lead the troop around town as “Malanka”. Malanka used to be popular female name in Ukraine (same as Melany or Melanie). Men who aren’t fans of wearing women’s clothes for kicks can choose from the more masculine roles of the Goat, Grandpa, Jester.
Photo: traditional Ukrainian "Malanka" performers
Old New Year’s Eve is one of the last chances to go wild and have fun before the winter holiday season is over.
Photo: shutterstock.com, pinterest.com, Evgeny Kraws. All photos belong to their rightful owners.