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.