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Ukrainian Holidays - New Year, Christmas, Old New Year

  New Year is a children's fairy tale for adults.

The New Year's holiday is the time for the beauty and the good fairy to come in every house in the end of each year with the onset of the winter cold. New Year is one of the most enigmatic of the holidays, not only because its expectations are connected with the good fairy tales and magic, but also because of the cultural traditions of the world. The New Year’s celebrating is probably the only significant event which the people in all countries and continents annually celebrate.
New Year brings us hope for the best in the future and gives a lot of presents. We begin to feel like heroes of fairy tales on this occasion. A child wakes up in each of us; we begin to perceive what is happening with the eyes of a child, although in reality we have long been grown-ups.

We like to believe in The Santa Claus and The Snow Maiden, who will hopefully visit our house too. You can disagree with us, but this is happening to everyone inside the people's heart. And we can put the blame on the New Year - a time when the most cherished desires and dreams are coming true. You just need to believe in good, and what we will receive in the end will be positive.

We are going to tell you - and most importantly - to show you how we celebrate theses New Year holidays - the New Year, Christmas and the Old New Year - in Ukraine. And also we will explain you what kind of a miracle our Old New Year is.

But first, let's start with the history.

The Ukrainian history of the New Year holiday begins in ancient times, when our ancestors associated and adapted it to the landmark events of life, thereby denoting the beginning of a new time period.

The date of the New Year – the 1st of January - this month is named to honour the Roman god Janus, whose one face was as turned to the past year and the second face was turned to the new one.

Celebrating the New Year brings the most joyful feelings, and it is associated with peace and love. This is a holiday with a Christmas tree (spruce is as a sacred centre, "world tree", symbolizing life itself and the new revival from the darkness and gloom), decorations, carnivals and delicious food. (Although almost until the middle of the 19th century the New Year's menu did not exist, and what we have now was considered for the New Year table and actually came from the desk of Christmas).

And of course the main attribute, which any New Year can't do without - is The Santa Claus and his granddaughter - The beautiful Snow Maiden. This couple is totally incomparable with the Western tradition Santa Claus. Our Santa Claus is only superficially similar to Santa Nicolaus. The image of Santa Claus has been forming for hundreds of years, and each of people made its story and meaning of something of its own.

The most long-standing tradition of meeting the New Year is related to the belief - " how you will meet the New Year - you will spend it in the same way." So people expect from this holiday miracles, happiness, and they meet it according to the traditions.

We offer you to dive into the atmosphere of this Ukrainian holiday-tale. The atmosphere will bring you happiness and good fortune with some unforgettable memories.
As the New Year meets us - and spends it with us...lets support this tradition - let's just be who we want to be in the New Year.
Come and feel the magic of The Christmas Ukrainian holidays!

And then next come Ukrainian Christmas and the Old New Year, which you can also experience with us.
The Christmas Holidays begin another cycle from the 2nd of January. In ancient times girls were preparing a varied holiday outfit. Houses were supposed to be ready for the celebration by the 4th of January. And also in the same day a lot of food was prepared for the future dinner.

Then the culmination of the holiday came - The Christmas Eve, or the plentiful kut'ya (the 6th of January). By tradition each member of the family had to stay at home that evening, and they could not be late for the festive dinner table - if it happened, you were bound to wander during the year.

In the Ukrainian villages was believed that pets had the ability to talk on the eve of Christmas.
It was decided to feed the horses, oxen, cows with grain. Grandchildren gave kut’ya and supper for the grandparents and to the godfather. The supper consisted of the main ritual meals, pies, kuti and fish. Having their supper, the attendants shared gifts. This sharing ritual that took place at the meal was a symbolic renewal of the relationship. Children who came with gifts were treated with pies, nuts, apples, sweets and gifts and even money.

Gradually the evening ends and then the magical Christmas night begins , during which it is impossible to sleep, because all the happiness that is keeping us is very alert. Nevertheless, even with a strong desire to sleep it is simply impossible: the church bells. The songs create solemn and festive range of sounds.
Rite Carolling has been long in our tradition - even from the pre-Christian times, when our ancestors worshiped the holiday of Sun (Kolyada). Mostly these songs are sung by children, and this is understandable. People, singing these songs (kolyadki), visit first the master's house on the Christmas Day and they can only be men who, in accordance with the tradition, are from a peaceful and restful house.

After the church service, the family is once again having a holiday dinner. Salo, liver, sausage, various cooked and smoked dishes, vodka ... festive table should be filled with diversity. After lunch it is time for a well-deserved rest.

On the following day after Christmas, children who are married have to visit their parents. Festivities begin again in the evening. Boys arrange a nativity play with puppets, the characters of which are "The Goat","Shepherd" and others.

  Добрий вечір тобі, пане господарю: радуйся!

  So, we wish good holiday evenings to you - Rejoice!

  ....И не только в украинской семье

  .... And not only the Ukrainian family wish....

  The Old New Year - is a rare historical phenomenon, an additional holiday, which turned out as a result of the change of chronology.
A very long time ago the beginning of the year was celebrated on the 1st of March (New Style March 14th). Since that time in Russia the Julian calendar was used, consisting of 12 months, whose names were associated with the phenomena of nature.
Since 1492 in Russia the New Year become widely celebrated in the church calendar, in the 1st of September (September 14th, New Style, the start of the year according to the "Genesis").
Two hundred years later in the year 1700 Peter the Great issued a decree "to calculate the summer, from January 1st, from the Nativity 8 days later. By the twentieth century the calendar lagged in Russia 13 calendar days behind Europe, so something had to be done to the Gregorian calendar. To close this gap in 1918 by decree of the Council of People's Commissars a transition to the Gregorian calendar was made - the "new style" on 14th of January - the day of St. Basil was the old New Year.

If at the Christmas Eve (January 6th) the kut?ya was plenty prepared, then at Melanki (January 13th) the Old New Year style was generous. That is why this evening is also called generous (shedriy).
The whole family sits down for the dinner. It is essential that the clothes on that day are thoroughly washed and clean. After the dinner, it is time to visit the neighbours and ask for an apology for the possible guilty deeds from each other - to meet the New Year in peace and harmony.
The evening before New Year gives a chance to the man who has failed during previous matchmaking. During this evening he can make a second attempt. However, he needs to find the girl from home, and it is very difficult, because in the village the girl's group is already attending singing the Christmas songs. But in ancient times the girls singings these (schedrivki) songs could only stay under the windows of houses and then only towards the end of the Generous (shedriy) evening, until midnight.

Special attention deserves the girl's fortune telling. The members of the female kind want to know what the destiny has in store for them in the future. Try at least this: before going to bed put a comb under the pillow, while saying: "my promised future husband, comb my hair in my dream!" Those who dream to be scratching their heads are believed to be your betrothed.
If you visit the yard at the midnight, you can feel how the Old New Year gets rid of the old year. In the New Year's Day it was most common, and it still remains to be so, the posevaniya ritual. It is believed that this ceremony has come to us even from pre-Christian times, because our ancestors greeted the New Year not in winter and spring, and because the posevaniya ritual is associated with the hopes for a good harvest. The ones who participated in this ritual were mostly children (posevalniki), and generous gifts were given to all those who came to the house first. There were single and also whole groups of posevalniki. In the last case, the interesting ceremony turned into a real spectacle, where the characters were Vasili Melanka, Gypsies and others.

With all these costumed performances, the Christmas carols, schedrivki, fortune-telling for you, we invite you. The holy spirit of the Ukrainian traditions leaves no one indifferent.
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