The Christmas celebration of Ukraine
King Volodymyr or Saint Vladimir is responsible for bringing
Christianity to Ukraine. He also plays a central role and
responsibility to the Christmas traditions of Ukraine as he
adapted the pre-Christian practices to form part of Christian
celebrations. The Julian calendar followed by the Eastern
Orthodox Church is what is followed in Ukraine as it is in
Russia, so they celebrate Xmas on a day different from the
rest of the world which follows the Gregorian calendar. They
enjoy a more solemn celebration after the commercial Xmas
of the rest of the world has died down.
Like Russia, the Christmas traditions of Ukraine has suffered
the tampering of the communist regime which superimposed the
celebration of New Year’s Day over Xmas. The belief
in Saint Nicholas was stronger among Ukrainians, or the communist
government did not put in enough effort to eradicate the practice.
Thus, Saint Nicholas survived the government suppression of
Christian religious practices and he remained a special saint
long after he was introduced to Ukraine by Saint Vladimir.
This celebration of the Christmas traditions of Ukraine provides
the children with great fun when people invite visitors into
their homes and the children receive present and exchange
gifts. Saint Nicholas is a permanent fixture of Ukrainian
Christmas wearing a bishop’s vestments.
The country retained agrarian elements to their present
Christmas traditions of Ukraine in the form of fertility
feasts and feasts of the winter solstice. Pursuant to the
Julian calendar, Ukrainian Christmas practices begin on
Xmas Eve with the Holy Supper composed of rituals and special
feasts, and these rituals end on the feast of Epiphany.
The appearance of the first star on Xmas Eve signals the
start of the ritualistic supper. The father offers the family
pieces of blessed bread dipped in honey. The family prays
and sits down for the twelve courses of meatless supper.
Amongst the Christmas traditions of Ukraine rituals, an ancient ritual is done after Christmas Day where monster-masked people scare the people and the people rise up to fight and defeat them in a symbolic fight between good and evil.