Christmas is celebrated in many countries and in a number of ways. The customs, traditions and celebrations of Christmas depends upon the country where the festival is celebrated. Ukrainian Christmas celebrations are one-of-a-kind. In Ukraine, Christmas celebrations begin on 2nd January and Christmas falls on 7th of January. Their Christmas traditions are unique and can be traced back to ancient times, although, the Ukrainians now, follow their ancestral traditions with a modern outlook. On Christmas Eve, the people in Ukraine prepare and indulge in a massive feast known as 'Sviata Vechera' with 12 dishes, after which they sing Christmas carols all night. The people attend Mass on the morning of Christmas Day. For the children of Ukraine, 'Ded Moroz' is the modern Santa Claus who brings gifts for them, along with another character known as 'Snowflake girl'. Read this article to learn more about the customs, traditions and celebrations of a Ukrainian Christmas.
Customs, Traditions & Celebrations
Christmas or 'Svyatvecher' is a wonderful occasion for the Ukrainian people. Christmas is celebrated every year on January 7th, although the celebrations begin from the 2nd of January. In Ukraine, the Christmas gift-bringer is known as 'Ded Moroz' or 'Father Frost' and is also called as 'Svyatyy Mykolay', which also means, St. Nicholas.
Christmas traditions in Ukraine have been followed since time immemorial. These days, their mode of celebrations is a blend of old-age practices and modern methodologies. The people in Ukraine generally finish all their office work and shopping before the holiday season. The streets and buildings are decorated beautifully during Christmas time. Even the people deck their homes with string lights, stockings and other ornaments to reflect the colorful themes of the festive season.
Ukrainian Christmas Eve
On January 6th, the Ukrainians begin the day by cleaning the whole house to get rid of all the negativities and to begin a fresh year with positivity. On this day, the Ukrainians prepare a twelve course meal as per ancient Christmas traditions. The twelve dishes are dedicated to the twelve months of the year. The main Ukrainian dishes are 'kutya', 'uzvar', buckwheat porridge, vegetable pies, stuffed cabbage rolls, cakes and other dishes prepared from mushrooms, beans and boiled peas. Kutya is a sweet grain pudding, which is the main meal in a Ukrainian, Christmas feast. This meal is an important aspect of Christmas celebrations and is referred to as 'Sviata Vechera' or 'Holy Supper', which is served on the dinner table with embroidered cloth and decorated with wisps of hay to reflect the theme of the Nativity Scene. The feast begins only when the children view the first star that appears in the evening sky. This practice is based on the journey of the 'Three Wise Men', who followed the evening star to find baby Jesus.
After dinner, Ukrainian families light candles and sing Christmas carols or 'koliadky' all night. 'Boh predvichny' or 'God eternally' is a popular Ukrainian Christmas carol with wonderful lyrics. The children also visit the houses in each house in the neighborhood and wish them happiness, wealth and luck for the coming year.
Another essential custom of the Ukrainian folks is the carrying of the wheat sheath or 'didukh' into their houses. This practice serves as a reminder of their ancestors and the inherent traditions of Ukrainian agriculture. A 'Shopka' is a miniature form of the Nativity Scene which features small figurines representing the main Christmas characters. This is assembled ornately in Ukrainian homes as a part of the culture.
Ukrainian Christmas Day
Church services begin from midnight on Christmas Eve and continue till next morning. On Christmas, Ukrainian families attend Masses at church. Usually the Christmas celebrations in Ukraine are very serene and peaceful. This is a day for the entire family to get together and cherish fond memories. Most people wear costumes with beast-skins and wear horns to scare naughty children. After a couple of hours, the people burn these costumes and dance, to signify the victory of good over evil. Children in Ukraine anticipate the arrival of Father Frost who arrives by sleigh, pulled by reindeers. Father Frost is often accompanied by little girl called the 'Snowflake Girl', who wears a blue dress and a white snowflake shaped crown.
'Svyatvecher' or Christmas is an important festival celebrated in Ukraine with a lot of enthusiasm. The Ukrainians prepare a large feast on the Eve of Christmas and sing Christmas carols as a part of the celebrations. Ded Moroz is the Santa Claus of Ukraine and is eagerly anticipated by children every year.
Christmas is celebrated extravagantly in Ukraine. Ukrainian people follow several customs and traditions during Christmas time. Read this article to know more about Christmas celebrations in Ukraine.