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The Ukrainians are just fond of celebrating holidays. They strictly observe the
traditions of Orthodox and Soviet holidays and readily accept Western holidays
like St. Valentine Day, Halloween and so on. A great number of holidays can be
divided into several groups - public, religious and just holidays. Public
holidays are marked with red in the calendar for you not to forget to have a
good rest. When a holiday falls on a non-work day, Saturday or Sunday, the
nearest Friday or Monday is a day-off.
Don't forget to surprise your Russian single woman with your knowledge of ukrainian traditions and a pleasant present.
1 New Year's Day
...is no doubt the main holiday of the year. According to the most recent polls
about 90% of the Ukrainians have called it their favorite holiday, everybody
impatiently waits for round the year. People decorate the New Year Tree, cook
festive dinners, buy presents, go to numerous New Year's parties that are
generously held not only at the end of December but also in the first two weeks
of January. There is a saying that a person will spend the year the way he has
welcomed it, so many do their best to have fun on the New Year's Day. One
usually spends this day or, to be more precise, evening and night with his
family or friends. The local channels show loved-by-all Soviet films and a few
minutes before midnight, the annual festive address of
the President to his nation is broadcasted. This bright holiday is loved by
people of different ages, but it is especially dear to children. They believe
that Ded Moroz, or Santa Claus, comes this night and puts gifts under the tree,
of course if they haven't been naughty in the old year. People usually prepare
presents for their friends and relatives and exchange them at 12 o’clock in the night.
7 Orthodox Christmas
...Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the
Gregorian calendar, used in Europe
and North America. Therefore the Ukrainians
celebrate Christmas on January 7, 13 days later than the Catholic world. A very
important religious holiday, Christmas wasn't celebrated under the Soviets
almost during the whole 20th century and only at the end of 1990s it was
resurrected. On January 6th, Christmas Eve, many families gather for Sviata
Vecheria (Holy Supper). The twelve-course meal is dedicated to Christ's twelve
apostles. The traditional meals included are kutia (home-made bread with honey
and red poppies), borsch (beet soup), vushka (dumplings filled with onions and
mushrooms), a variety of fish, vareniki (dumplings filled with cabbage,
potatoes, or prunes), and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage). In the last few years
many forgotten traditions like Kolyadki (masked children going door-to-door to
receive candy in exchange for traditional songs and jokes) have being reviving.
Jan 13 Old
New Year's Day
...The strangest holiday of the Slavonic calendar. In fact, it is also
connected with the conservatism of Slavonic people. After the 1917 Revolution, Russia and Ukraine switched to the western calendar. Before
that time they have been 13 days behind the rest of the world. However, even
though the official calendar was switched, many people did not want to change
and others refused to celebrate New Year before Christmas. The celebrations are
not of such an enormous scale as the ones of the New Year's Day and it is not a
...or Students' Day. The holiday originates to the 18th century. In 1775, on
the day of Maiden Tatiana the Martyr Empress Elizabeth Petrovna signed the
regulation about the foundation of Moscow
University, which went down into history
as the first Russian University. In the 18th and 19th centuries this day
was celebrated as the Day of Foundation of Moscow University, but already in
the second half of the 19th century it became a holiday of all the Universities
and students. Today, Tatiana's Day is a kind and cheerful holiday, when
students enjoy the freedom, youth and coming vacations. Those who have been
students decades ago remember their old good days at universities.
Feb 14 St.
... When the so-called Iron Curtain fell down, people of the Former Soviet
Union saw that there are a lot of nice European and American holidays and have
eagerly adopted some of them. There is no point in describing Ukrainian St.
Valentine's Day as there is practically no difference from the Western holiday
of the same name. People give little presents, chocolates and valentine’s
postcards in shape of hearts to their beloved ones.
Former Red Army Day
...Men's Day In Soviet times it was the holiday of all those who had ever
served in the military. While the Soviet Union was rather a military state, about 90% of men were at some point
connected to the Red Army, so later it became a holiday for men. It is not a
public holiday in Ukraine, but most Russian women make some
presents to their male relatives and friends and do their best to please their
husbands and boyfriends.
8 Women's Day
...Originally introduced by the Communists, this holiday has lost its political
content and has become a cultural tradition. On this extremely popular holiday
men are expected to do everything around the house and give their Russian women the
possibility to have at least the only day off from all that cleaning and
cooking. Men present chocolate, flowers and gifts to their wives, mothers,
daughters, sisters, female friends and colleagues.
...or Humor Day People play tricks on their friends and if they have a sense of
humor then everybody have fun. The best tricks are considered the ones made
...The major holiday of the Orthodox religious calendar. It is usually about
two weeks after Catholic Easter. For many people this holiday starts with
church attendance on Saturday evening, where the festive church service is held
and the father, or Orthodox priest blesses kulichi (traditional Easter cake) and
pisanki (painted Easter eggs). The father greets the congregation repeating
many times over: "Christ is risen!" and the congregation replies in
chorus "Indeed He is risen!" During the day people visit relatives
and closest friends and present them with Easter basket, filled with kulichi
and pisanki, which are believed to posses a spiritual power. Everybody greets
each other with "Christ is risen", then follows the answer
"Indeed He is risen!" and exchange with triple kiss, the so-called
...or May Day. Under the Soviets, it was one of the greatest holidays of the
year - with colorful demonstrations and celebration of the workers and
kolkhozniks, or collective farmers. Today, practically nobody bothers with
parades, transparency and that entire Soviet staff (surely except for some
energetic old people, who try to revive those "good old days").
People just stay at home and rest. Nevertheless, this remnant of Communism is
unlike to die in the near future.
9 Victory Day
...Owning to the closeness of this holiday to May Day, often the first week of
May is weeklong holiday for the whole country. It is a very important holiday
for all the Ukrainians, while you hardly find a family, which would not suffer
from Nazis in the World War II. Large military parades are held, wreathes and
flowers are put on graves of soldiers and those who died in war. Family and
friends congratulate veterans who wear their uniforms and medals on this day.
...It comes fifty days after Easter and celebrates the Descent of the Holy
Spirit who poured himself out on the apostles. On this day people decorate
their houses and apartments with greenery, which is a reminder of the new life
that comes through baptism. The wildflowers blessed on the festive church
service are dried up and kept behind the icons, as they are believed to possess
special spiritual powers. For example, if the mistress of the house puts dried
flowers in the garret, they will protect the house from fire. On Holy Trinity
Day young girls make garlands and throw them in the river or lakes to foresee
the future. If the garland sinks, the girl who made wont get married in the
following year, if not, she will. This tradition originates from
the pagan holiday celebrating the beginning of summer, which was forbidden
after the Christening of Kievan Rus.
...It is quite obvious that this holiday commemorates the signing of the
Ukrainian Constitution that took place in 1996. As this holiday is rather new
there are no particular traditions of celebrating it. For example, in Kharkov on the Constitution Day on Maidan Nezalezhnosty Square concerts of popular Ukrainian
singers are held. Besides, on this day you are sure to hear the hymn of Ukraine, broadcasted on radio or TV or
sung by people in the street.
Aug 23 Kharkov Day
...Each Ukrainian city has its City Day, the day when the city was founded.
Kharkov Day is usually celebrated on the 23 of August. Originally it was the
day when the city was released from Nazi occupation during the World War 2, but
nowadays people celebrate it a City Day. During this day various performances
of popular actors and musicians are held. Many people from suburbs and even
other towns come to Kharkov to see performances, walk
along nicely decorated streets and have a great time. The celebration is usually
accomplished with fireworks at about 10 p.m.
Aug 24 Independence Day
...In 1991 Ukraine
became independent from the USSR and was proclaimed a Sovereign State. The
Independence Day is usually celebrated with festivals and military parades.
If you have a possibility, visit the performance of military orchestras that
is quite interesting.
Sep 1 Day of Knowledge
...The first day of the new school year. Children go to schools; students go to
universities and institutions, where on this day different celebrations are
held. The most spectacular events are at elementary school. Well-dressed
first-year children, bringing flowers for their first teacher, gather in the
schoolyard or in the school to listen to the first bell ringing. A first-year
child, usually a girl, is carried by a graduating student, usually a boy, and
she rings a bell, thus, opening a new school year.
...Once a great Soviet holiday, since 2002 it ceased to be public, but you
still can see some communist pensioners marching with red flags and
transparencies in Kharkov's streets.