Christmas and Sylvester in the Ukraine

Dear friends,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year from North America to Europe and beyond :). Here in Ukraine, we begin celebrating the season by bringing a spruce tree into our home and decorating it in time for Sylvester, much like American Christmas, but celebrated on January 6th. We also put together a nativity scene showing the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, an angel and the three wise men.

Traditional Christmas in Ukraine

We invite over our families for a huge feast, called Sviaty Vechir, with twelve different foods, sometimes more, to represent each of Jesus’ apostles or as a memory to our deceased relatives. The table is decorated with sheaves of wheat and oats to show our hope for prosperity for the coming year. Although we don’t use meat or milk products for our Christmas Eve feast, we start with a seasonal soup and move to dishes with lots of tasty mushrooms, fish and bread. My favorite part of dinner is dessert of poppy seed pastries and poppy milk. My sister, Alena, loves the deep fried dumplings and eats them with carp.

Christmas in Ukraine

After dinner, we sing Christmas carols as a family, and sometimes join with our church or a charity group to go caroling for the poor. Soon thereafter, we wait for St. Nicholas, or Svyatyi Mykolai, as we call him in the Ukraine, to bring gifts to all of the good children. We also watch for the first start to the east to rise and remember the long trek of the magi to visit baby Jesus in the manger.

Before St. Nicholas arrives, we give presents to all of our loved ones, friends and even close acquaintances to show appreciation for the people who matter most to us. We’ll usually spend a lot of time thinking back on all of the wonderful things that have happened over the past year and again, showing appreciation for them.

With full bellies, my family and I will move to the living room and watch all of the holiday specials on television and try to stay awake until midnight. The next morning, the people of our village will dress up as demons and God’s angels to show that good will always overcome evil. I love the traditions of the holidays in the Ukraine, and look forward to it every year.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Your Krystyna


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1 Response

  1. hilton says:


    I think it would be a GREAT idea to post pictures of this whole process and put it in your blog, here online, so that we can see all the pictures and all whole process of what Ukrainians go through in order to celebrate Christmas on January 6th.

    What do you think of that idea?

    Merry early Christmas….

    Being that I’m by myself(my mother and father are now deceased) I don’t celebrate Christmas like everyone else. But, I do give out christmas presents to some of my friends that are here in Hawaii for Christmas. The vast majority of my friends leave one or two weeks before christmas to go to Las Vegas or some other part of the U.S.A.

    My whole life will no doubt change once I find that special Ukrainian lady. And, once again, I will be able to celebrate Christmas with a family that I will have for my own…


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