Ukrainians love their numerous holidays and love to “celebrate” those holidays in grandeous fashion. It’s not uncommon for Westerners to be taken aback at just how many “days of note” they observe, and the amount of fireworks and revelry that goes along with them, not to mention the vast amount of spirits consumed. Ukraines history that included Paganism and later Christianity can be attributed to the evolution of many of her current holidays and festivities.
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 stikes twelve times. Another “fun” folk tradition pacticed 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.
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