Christmas traditions in Ukraine
In all Christian world, Christmas feast is known for the atmosphere of special devotion and spirituality. In the period of Ukrainian Christmas celebrations, Nativity scenes representing Biblical story of Jesus Christ`s birth can be found in churches and other public places in cities. All homes and streets are usually decorated with shining Christmas trees and candles reminding us of the lights that were burning in Bethlehem shed. The top of Christmas tree is crowned with beautiful star, symbolizing the star of Bethlehem, which showed Three Wise Men the way to the infant Jesus.
As for Christmas celebration in Ukraine, attending Christmas Eve liturgy in a church is one of the most important rituals. In all regions of the country, grown-ups as well as children visit local churches to listen to fascinating Christmas carols and to pay homage to Infant God. Special Christmas liturgies take places in the most Orthodox churches of Ukraine in the night of January 6.
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When it is Christmas in Ukraine, many children and young people dressed in national costumes go outside to the streets in order to sing merry Christmas songs called “kolyadky”. They knock on the doors of houses and perform kolyadky to the people, receiving words of gratitude and tasty sweets in return. Sometimes they not only sing, but also play small scenes, for example, scenes with “Koza” (“Goat”) – the traditional Ukrainian symbol of wealth and goodness.
Just before the big holiday, on January 6, Ukrainians gather at table to have a traditional Christmas dinner. On this evening, often called “Svyatvechir” (“Holy Evening”), family members are not allowed to quarrel and shout at each other. It should be mentioned that some rituals must be kept before eating: it is essential to clean the house (to put in order material world around you), to make a confession and to make peace with your enemies (to purify your soul). Only after that, Ukrainians start cooking festive dishes.
Ukrainian Christmas menu includes many special meals. However, according to customs, all of them are meagre. Ukrainian Christmas dinner includes 12 dishes in the honor of 12 Christ`s disciples. The following tasty meals are usually served for Svyatvechir: borsch, dumplings, fish, mushrooms, porridge, beans, potatoes, cabbage rolls and kutia. Kutia is a ritual Slavic dish, made of milk, honey, wheat grains, beans, lentil, nuts and poppy seeds. The delicious meals are accompanied by traditional drink called “uzvar”.
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On January 7, the second part of Ukrainian Christmas celebration begins. In the morning, many people go to church and listen to soul-uplifting prayers. When leaving the church, people congratulate each other with the birth of Jesus Christ, saying warm and inspiring words. Since on this day advent fast finishes, and Ukrainians are allowed to relax and eat all kinds of food, they often hold one more festive dinner and participate in various Christmas entertainment events that take place in many cities.
Christmas events 2018 in Ukraine
Christmas in Ukraine 2018 will be celebrated in all big cities on a large scale. So where can we go to celebrate Christmas in Ukraine? Let` see which interesting events will take place in Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Odesa.
In Kyiv, the main Christmas celebration 2018 will be held on Sofiyivska square, where guests will be able to visit Christmas fair. Other celebration activities will take place on Mykhailivska square and Volodymyrsky passage.
In the frame of “Neo-New Year on Sofiyivska square” culture and art project, a Christmas program will be held on January 6 and 7. During this event, everyone will be welcome to have fun in Christmas town, to listen to melodic music at big concert and to take part in many other exciting performances and activities.
Christmas procession of the Starholders is scheduled for January 7, 12:00. The participants of the event will be holding beautiful decorative stars and singing Christmas carols, while going through the central streets of Ukrainian capital. Traditional Starholders route passes through the following points: Sofiyivska square – National Opera of Ukraine – Khreschatyk – Independence Square – Mykhailivska square – Volodymyrsky passage. The event is purposed to revive Ukrainian Christmas customs.
Annually on January 7, “Pyrogovo” National Folk Architecture and Life Museum holds a big Christmas celebration. The event starts with greeting of participants and guests near St. Paraskevy Church, and after that, everyone goes through museum exposition singing Christmas songs. The guests are also welcome to take part in the Nativity play and traditional Christmas ritual with the Goat. Entry: UAH 40.
Address: Akademika Tron`ko street, Kyiv
Christmas 2018 will also be celebrated in “Kyiv Rus” Historical Park, located not far from Kyiv in Kopachev village. On January 6-8, the visitors of the park will have a chance to watch stunt horse riding theatre performance, pyrotechnics and visual effects show. Fairy tale characters will play in a real Nativity scene. Those who are interested may take part in fortunetelling session (indeed, everyone knows that fortunetelling in Christmas time always comes true!). During the events, guests will have a chance to hear the ancient language of Slavs who lived in Kyiv Rus; to taste perfect kutia and uzvar along with delicious sausages and barbecue cooked on an open fire. Don`t miss a chance to try delicious warming drinks such as hot mulled wine, honey liquor and hrenovuha. All kids will receive sweets from Santa Claus, Snow maiden, Saint Nicholas and angels.
In Lviv, Christmas fair will take place on the alley near Opera House from December 10 till January 20. As usual, festive fair houses will be installed near Opera and on Rynok square. In these pretty houses everyone interested will be able to buy some tasty snacks and hot drinks as well as nice Christmas souvenirs.
Biblical scenario will be performed on a big scene in front of the City Hall with help of five two-meter wooden figures painted by Lviv kids. Holiday procession of people singing kolyadky will go through the heart of Lviv. Installation of large Didukh on January 6 will be one of the most important happenings of Christmas celebration in Lviv. Didukh is a traditional Ukrainian Christmas decoration made of wheat ears from the last gathered sheaf. It symbolizes good harvest, wellness, wealth. In old times, Didukh was brought into the house on January 6 after the first Christmas star had raised in the sky. People believed that Didukh attracts merry mood, peace, goodness and homely coziness.
On January 8, everyone is invited to “Christmas Star Flash” festival in the old city. In the course of this bright event, guests will enjoy Nativity scenes parade and Starholders procession. Those who are interested may also visit big Christmas festival in open-air “Shevchenkivsky Gai” Folk Architecture and Life Museum at the address 1, Cherneca Gora street.
As for Western Ukrainian city Ivano-Frankivsk, Christmas festival “Kolyada na Maizliakh” is usually organized there in the middle of January. During this authentic event, guests enjoy performances of choruses, folk bands and Nativity plays in Christ The King Church (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church). In the period of winter holidays, traditional New Year and Christmas fair takes place on Veche square and Vitovsky square.
In Odesa, Christmas festival is traditionally organized on famous Deribasivska street. Here guests may see beautiful Nativity scenes.
In 2017, an important decision was made by the Ukrainian government – it declared 25th December, Catholic Christmas, an official state holiday. This year, the holiday will be on Monday, so Ukrainians will have three days off in a row.
Catholics say that in this day it is common to gift each other little symbolic presents. Kids receive sweets and small toys. Red spurge in a flower pot, also called Christmas Star, is one of the most popular presents on Catholic Christmas.
In Ukraine, Christmas 2018 will delight us with many exciting moments. Let Ukrainian Christmas 2018 bring peace and joy to your heart and soul!
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Ukrainian Christmas 2018
When is Ukrainian Christmas in 2018? As always, the most important Orthodox holiday will be celebrated in Ukraine on January 7. Christmas is the favorite event for many Ukrainians, who usually spend it in the family circle and with the loved ones in warm homely atmosphere. Like any other holiday, Christmas in Ukraine has its special traditions. Let`s learn more about Ukrainian Christmas customs and Christmas events that will take place in different cities of Ukraine in 2018.
Christmas traditions in Ukraine