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Christmas celebrations take place in Ukraine – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

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Kiev’s only official Christmas tree stands in the square outside Sophia Cathedral.

The lights on the tree shine beautifully in the evening darkness, even though there is more rain than snow in the air.

Contrast: Kiev’s official Christmas tree stands in front of one of its most famous churches and monasteries.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

The authorities in the capital decided not to spend a lot of money on Christmas decorations. It should be sent as much as possible to soldiers fighting on the front against the Russian occupation forces.

But people come to take pictures of families in front of the tree. There is a huge contrast between what looks like a normal Christmas atmosphere and the war going on in the country.

Similar to Western countries

In Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on January 7, as is customary in the Orthodox Church.


Unusual: Oksana Bosnovska will celebrate Christmas in December and January.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

But this year, the official celebration of Christmas in the country is on December 25. The government has decided so.

When the Soviet Union existed, New Year was the major holiday, and it had many similarities to our celebration of Christmas.

Christmas was largely a religious holiday celebrated in churches.

But celebrating Christmas in Ukraine will now be more similar to what we have in Western countries.

Divided opinions

We look at the matter positively, because we are heading towards Europe. I think we should get closer to Europe, both in terms of traditions and the history of the celebration, a young woman named Anna tells NRK.

– For our parents and grandparents, it may be difficult to move the Christmas celebration to December 25. That’s why this year we will celebrate Christmas on January 25 and 7, says Oksana Bosnovska.


Split: The two armies have different opinions about Christmas celebrations.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

Two soldiers also came to take pictures of themselves next to the Christmas tree.

One of them says he will do whatever the authorities decide when it comes to when to celebrate Christmas. The other does not know the truth.
– It’s a difficult question. I leave it to the priests, but not to the Patriarch of Moscow. Glory to Ukraine!

Traditions are brought to life

For Christmas, a museum holds a course on how to make gingerbread.


Tradition: Families learn how to make a type of gingerbread.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

Many parents have come with their children to learn how to do this.
This is an old and almost forgotten tradition in Ukraine.
It is not easy for young children to achieve this.

– When I take the dough, it sticks to the rolling pin. “It’s very difficult to decipher,” says Timur Deko.


It’s not quite simple: Tatiana Deko and her son Timur are on a cake baking course.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

After baking the cake shapes, they should be brushed with beetroot juice.

– Yesterday we had Russian drones, today we make Christmas cakes, says Tatiana Deko.
She believes that this celebration represents a small happiness for children. Cakes, Christmas trees, and gifts, children desperately needed during the war.

Parents who participate in this course also think that it is a good idea to postpone the celebration of Christmas until December.

– Yes, this is a step towards Europe and a step away from Russia, confirms Oksana Varenek.

He refuses to change history

The Cave Monastery in Kiev was once the headquarters of a part of the Orthodox Church that was subject to the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow. This year, most people have had to leave the area, but the situation around the famous monastery and churches there remains tense.


Held in January: Anna refuses to move the Christmas celebration, she wants to do as she always did.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

Here we meet a small group of activists, none of whom wants to disrupt the Christmas celebration.

We celebrate Christmas like our ancestors and those before them. The authorities come and change history. The world has gone crazy, Anna tells NRK.

She believes that if you don’t believe in God, things will go wrong for everyone.

It becomes a habit

There is a service at St Michael’s Cathedral.
This is the headquarters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Church leadership supports the move to celebrate Christmas, but allows individual churches to choose what they want to do.

a priest

Get used to it: Mykhaylo Omelyan is a spokesman for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He says the transition to the new dates is going well.

Photography: Luqman Al-Ghorbani/NRK

Management was keen to know what older churchgoers would think, but a Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesman told NRK that things seemed to be going well.

There are a few groups that want to keep the old arrangement.

– It will be unusual for a year or two, but then it will be common and normal, says Mykhailo Omelyan.

I try to make my son feel good

In an apartment in the center of Kiev, we meet Svetlana Ilchuk.

I have put up many different Christmas decorations and decorated the tree for a long time.


Feeling good: Svetlana Ilchuk bakes a birthday cake and sends it to her son, a soldier at the front.

Photo: Jan Espen Kruse/NRK

She believes that it is perfectly fine for Ukraine from now on to celebrate Christmas at the same time as Western countries.

It makes a beautiful Christmas cake flavored with spices and chocolate on top.

“I think it’s an English recipe, and at least it’s so good that many of my friends have made it a Christmas tradition,” she says.
Her son is celebrating his second birthday somewhere on the front in eastern Ukraine.


LIVE: Svetlana Ilchuk’s son sometimes sends updates to his mother about how he is doing.

Photography: Lokman Ghorbani/NRK

The mother baked a birthday cake that she was going to send him.

Her eyes bring tears when she talks about her son and the risks he takes defending the homeland. But sometimes you get pictures and videos that show he is alive.

“I hope he and the other soldiers enjoy the birthday cake, and he feels good remembering where he came from,” says the mother.

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