Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Holidays in Ukraine

What are Winter Holidays like in Ukraine? Why do Ukrainians say Happy New Year and Merry Christmas instead of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year?

Winter Holidays in Ukraine do not start with Christmas, because the
Christmas is celebrated on the 6th and 7th January. Eastern Orthodox
national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia,
Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts
using the older Julian Calendar. December 25 on that calendar currently
corresponds to January 7 on the more widely used Gregorian calendar.

The New Year is celebrated mostly in the eve of 31st December and in
Ukraine this holiday is still more popular that the Christmas.
Traditionally families get together to celebrate around the festive dinner
table. There is LOTS of food and also lots of drinks. One of the normal
things to do is to watch many musical shows and popular movies which are
broadcasted that day. Few minutes before the midnight all the channels
broadcast the congratulation speech of President of Ukraine (there is the
same tradition in Russian Federation as well).

People exchange gifts on the New Year's eve and kids usually find their
gifts in the morning of 1st January under the pine tree which is put up in most of the private apartments (if you go to offices in Ukraine around the New Year's time you will also see decorated trees in most of them). The gifts are brought by the Ded Moroz (means Grandpa Frost) and his grand-daughter Snegurochka:

During the times of Soviet Union religion was oppressed and therefore
celebrating any religious holidays was very risky business. During the
Stalin time this could easily send a person to Siberia for 15 years which
in most of the cases meant capital punishment, because of the conditions
created by the Stalin regime in those work camps. During 70 years Jews,
Muslims or Christians could not celebrate their holidays due to the
communist anti G-d policy. Hence the attention and the importance of
religious winter holidays (Hanukkah and Christmas) was shifted to the New
Year's. As an example, it became a tradition to place a red five corner
star which symbolized the Soviet state on the top of the pine tree:

Most of the cities and towns of Ukraine and Russia have large pine trees
usually placed on the central Squares, the cities are also decorated with
the lights, here are few pictures made in Kharkov around the Winter
Holidays time:
Liberty Square- "Heart" of Kharkov Mordinson office is 450 meters away

Check out the HD quality video slide show made of high resolution pictures of the ladies from Mordinson gallery (part 2):