Christmas in Ukraine
3 Feb 2015 | From Lidiya of Ukraine
"Z Rizdvom Khrystovym!"
Along with the Christmas card is a sheeps-in-love 2015 calendar from Lidiya. Many Ukrainians have a day off on Christmas Day, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is an annual public holiday across Ukraine and falls on January 7, the Orthodox Christmas date. The period from January 7-14 is a festive week, in which it is customary for some people to dress up, visit homes, sing Christmas songs (eg. Kolyadka), and wish each other blessings.
'Sviata Vechera' or Holy Supper is the central tradition of the beautiful Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. Many Canadian and American families wear their Ukrainian embroidered shirts on this occasion.
At the end of the Sviata Vechera, the family often sings Kolyadky, Ukrainian Christmas Carols. In many communities the old Ukrainian tradition of carolling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations.
Ukrainian Christmas customs are based not only on Christian traditions, but to a great degree on those of the pre-Christian, pagan culture and religion. The Ukrainian society was basically agrarian at that time and had developed an appropriate pagan culture, elements of which have survived to this day.