Enjoy Holidays in Ukraine in Special Days

1 January – New Year’s Day is one the most favorite of all holidays in Ukraine. As in Western countries on Christmas Eve, Ukrainians give New Year presents, Children receive their presents under the New Year Tree on the morning of the 1st of January. Traditionally just prior to midnight there’s a Presidential speech broadcast nationally. When the clock strikes Midnight, people pop open their champaign bottles and raise a toast. With the first glass they congratulate each other as the clock strikes 12 times and fireworks fill the sky. The week before the New Year is a busy one with shopping, parties at work, decorating pine and fir-trees, and cooking the years most delicious meals. The main folk heroes of this holiday are Father Frost (Did Moroz) and his grand-daughter Sniguron’ka (The Snow Girl). The tradition of predicting fortunes on this night is very popular among young people.

A peculiar tradition includes writing down on a piece of paper your wish for the coming year, then dropping it in to your champagne and drinking it as the clock strikes twelve times. Another fun folk tradition practiced mainly in the villages on New Year night is for the unmarried girls to go outside and throw one of their boots over the Hosts’ fence. Whichever way the toe of the boot ends up pointing indicates where the future husband will come from. Nearly all businesses remain closed from December 31st to January 8th.

7 January – Orthodox Christmas The period from the 7th until the 14th of January is Saint Christmas week. During this week people go from one house to another, singing songs and wishing good wishes to health, prosperity, etc. and just having a good time. Most usually are dressed in folksy or carnival type costumes. Such activity is called Kolyaduvannya and Schedruvannya. The songs are called kolyadky and schedrivky. When somebody is singing these songs and greeting you, as a rule you should give them sweets or food or drinks or whatever you have as a token of appreciation. . It is believed that everything that the people have sung in their Kolyadka and Schedrivka will come true.

Also during the new year holidays, up to the 14th of January it is common for kids (and sometimes adults-in the villages) to go from one house to another wishing the owner of the house new year wishes, new happiness, health, etc. All those wishes are usually said in rhymes and with the spreading of seeds, such as wheat or other grains. This shows a wish of prosperity for the house. This practice is called Posivannya. Some token, usually food, drink, sweets, or money, is usually given in return.

8 March – International Women’s Day is considered the first Spring Holiday in Ukraine. It is an official day off as both men and women look forward to this holiday. It originated as a day of fighting for women’s rights, when on the 8th of March 1897 women (workers of sewing and shoe factories) gathered in New York demanding 10 hour working days, light and dry work places and equal salaries with men. In 1910 at the International Conference of Women Socialists in Copenhagen, Clara Tsetkin proposed celebrating the International Women’s day on March, 8th which sounded an appeal to all women of the world to join in the struggle for equality.

The International Women’s day on March, 8th has been a State Holiday of the Former Soviet Union since the countries inception.. Beginning in 1965 it was recognized as an official day off. The Holiday enjoyed vast celebratory rituals, including public meetings involving officials at various levels of government in an attempt to report the governments efforts in supporting Womens Rights and issues concerning them. Gradually International Women’s day became less political and more personal. After disintegration of the Soviet Union , March, 8th has remained on the list of State Holidays in nearly all of the CIS countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia as the International Women’s Day. In Uzbekistan it is referred to as the Day of Mother. In Armenia it is celebrated on April, 7th as the Day of Motherhood and Beauty. Currently in the CIS it is also thought of as the Day of Spring and the Day of all Women, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends. Unlike Mother’s Day every woman expects to receive flowers and gifts.

April – May – Orthodox Easter – Two weeks following the Catholic Easter Holiday is the main Christian Orthodox Holiday established to honor the Resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucification on the cross and to the coming out of the Jews from Egypt. The date of Easter is usually determined by the Church calendar and calculated according to the so-called Paskhalias (the name for the special tables.) Before and during Easter Ukrainians buy or bake Easter cakes (buisquits with raisins),and hand paint eggs widely known as Pysanka. It is a very important holiday. On Easter night people go to their local church, spending the entire night in Church services! Usually they take with them Easter cakes, painted eggs, and bottles of wine. In the morning (about 4 am) the service concludes with the clergyman sprinkling all food with sacred water which is believed to give strong healing powers. At this time people return home to continue the celebration with food and drink throughout the the day. The traditional greeting on this day is: Khrystos Voskres! (Christ is arisen) and the answer Voyistynu Voskres! (Truly arisen) followed with kisses and the exchanging of gifts.