27
Sep-2017

Traditional Ukrainian Holidays You Have to See in Winter

Winter is rich for Ukrainian traditional holidays. Moreover, there are some of them that make people come to the country particularly for unique cultural experience of the celebration. Look through the traditions of the most famous winter Ukrainian holidays and don’t forget to book your trip.

ANDREW’S EVENING PARTY

When: 13th of December

Ukrainians, especially young girls, like everything mysterious and unusual. Due to this, the ancient tradition of divination on Andrew’s day keeps being popular. The evening parties are held on the night from 12th to 13th of December and include a lot of funny activities the main aim of which is to know more about your future husband and destiny.

Girls practice various divinations using mirrors, fire, and even shoes. In one of it girl throw her shoe out of the window as far as possible. This shoe is considered to show a direction from which her future husband will come. The tradition that is kept by young girls the most is the divination with papers. A friend of the girl writes 12 male names on 12 small pieces of paper. After this, the girl put all the papers under her pillow to sleep on it overnight. In the morning she randomly picks one paper from there. According to the divination, this will be a name of her future husband.

Top cultural activities:

  • organize divination party (female);
  • assist divinations.

Additional activities:

 

CHRISTMAS

When: 6-7th of January

Every year starts with the most famous one of traditional Ukrainian holidays – Christmas. If you already know something about Ukraine and its traditions you might be probably familiar with the fact, that Christmas here comes not on 25th of December.

In Orthodox countries, and Ukraine is one of them, Christmas celebration falls on 7th of January with the Christmas Eve the day before. Both days are an important part of the traditional celebration. For the Christmas Eve dinner, every family should prepare 12 dishes to be served at the table. The difficulty lays in the obligation that all 12 dishes should be fasting eligible (no meat, eggs and other products of animal origin included) because fast is not yet over. So every family prepares the dinner and waits when the first star appears in the night sky – that’s the sign to start.

Both days are an important part of the traditional celebration. For the Christmas Eve dinner, every family should prepare 12 dishes to be served at the table. The difficulty lays in the obligation that all 12 dishes should be fasting eligible (no meat, eggs and other products of animal origin included) because fast is not yet over. So every family prepares the dinner and waits when the first star appears in the night sky – that’s the sign to start.

When Christmas Eve is 100% family event, Christmas itself encourages people to make visits to each other. On this day, instead of ordinary «Hello» people use a special greeting «The Christ was born» (Chrystos narodyvsia) followed by «Let’s bring glory to him» (Slavimo yogo) as an answer.  

Top cultural activities:

  • eat kutya (traditional Christmas dish);
  • cook Christmas Eve dinner of 12 dishes;
  • sing Christmas carols.

Additional activities:

 

MALANKA

When: 13-14th of January

Malanka, often called «Generous evening» (Schedryi vechir), is the second among 3 big winter traditional Ukrainian holidays that falls on 13th of January evening. The traditional ancient way of this holiday celebration is not much common, however, can be seen in villages of the regions that keep their traditions (e.g. Bukovyna – Chernivetska region). While the traditional dinner remains the same tradition, except the variety of dishes that now include meat, salo etc, the evening itself is much more fun.

Malanka it’s the name of the performance traditionally held by local youth. Young people make a big preparation, create unusual costumes, paint faces and bring a lot of equipment. All these to properly fulfill the mission – look scary and make a lot of noise. The group goes from house to the house singing special songs, dancing and playing. Back in times, people believed it brings lots of luck and happiness through making evil forces go away.

Top cultural activities:

  • make a scary costume;
  • participate in the traditional performance;
  • try tasty holiday dishes.

Additional activities:

 

VODOHRESCHA

When: 19th of January

And the last one of the series of big winter holidays is Vodohrescha that comes on 19th of January. This holiday is connected with the event when the Christ was baptized in the Jordan river. On this day every church conducts a special ministering where they sanctify the water. After, everybody can take it home to use for special occasions during the year.

For the bravest and healthiest ones, there is another sacral tradition – holly diving. People believe that water on this day becomes healing. That’s why a lot of people go to rivers and lakes to dive under freezing water three times. However, note that it’s dangerous and should be done in specific places under a supervision of medical workers.

Top cultural activities:

  • visit the church and take some water;
  • try to dive into freezing water.

Additional activities:

 

MASLYANA

When: date is flexible (approximately – end of February)

This one of traditional Ukrainian holidays can be called a festival due to the length and fun of its celebration. Maslyana falls on the last week that comes before the Great Fast. People often associate it with the tasty food and crowded open-air festivals that are aimed to welcome spring and bring the warmth. The main dish of the holiday – pancakes. Every day during all the week people cook and eat pancakes with different flavors and ingredients, organize outdoor events, play games, sing, and dance. Even in big cities nowadays you can find a range of Maslyana festivals and events all over the city and special pancakes menu in almost every restaurant. It’s fun and tasty holiday that all the family will enjoy.

Top cultural activities:

  • learn how to make pancakes with different flavors;
  • visit one of the festivals;
  • eat as much pancakes as you can.

Additional activities:

 

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