Pozdorovlyaeemo eez Novym Rokom!
(Happy New Year in Ukrainian)
How do I know that Ukrainians love the New Year? They celebrate it not once, but three times!
• At 11 p.m. on December 31st (Old Year’s Night), Ukrainians have become accustomed to cheering when Moscow’s bells chime the New Year in. It’s a way to remember their Russian roots.
• At midnight, a modern New Year’s Eve is celebrated. If you are a young man, you might dye your hair orange to acknowledge the revolution.
• On January 13, the traditional New Year is observed.
Similar to other countries at the New Year, Ukrainians wish for love, peace and prosperity. But in my opinion, our country has the most unique celebration, because it’s Christmas and New Year’s rolled up in one! But there is no religious significance in the Ukraine.
A spruce tree is traditional, and here comes our Ukrainian Kris Kringle (Ded Moroz) and his granddaughter Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)! He embodies the kindly older figure for Ukrainian children everywhere, and his sleigh is borne by a troika of three horses. He gives New Year’s presents, rather than Christmas presents.
Traditional meals include the whole family gathered around a feast of 12 dishes. The table is beautifully laden with food and toys. I like to see a feast of fish, mushrooms, grains, honey cake and Christmas balls.
As the old year dies, we all make our wishes for the new one. All bad things are banished, as we welcome in the good. As fireworks light up the sky, we visit our neighbors to say that we’re sorry for any past wrongdoing, to start with a clean slate.
For my fellow Ukrainians who also observe Old New Year, we will have a quieter January 13 this year. We honor our Slavic roots, as our children go door to door dressed as mummers. We also sing traditional carols. Here in the Ukraine, we are so fond of carolling that we sing about the mysteries of life and our hopes for next year from December until Easter! If food has not been abundant, we pray in song for Mother Nature to come to our aid.