Famous Ukrainians reveal when their families celebrate Christmas

25 December 2022, 02:16 PM
Ukraine has become embroiled in debate over when the country should celebrate Christmas (Photo:REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine has become embroiled in debate over when the country should celebrate Christmas (Photo:REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine has become embroiled in debate over when the country should celebrate Christmas: Dec 25 or Jan. 7. NV asked famous Ukrainians what they think about the question, and when they themselves plan to celebrate the holiday.

Dmytro Borysov, owner and brand-chef GastroFamily (Kanapa, Ostannya Barrykada, Okhota Na Ovets):

We have a big family with (my wife) Olena. We are raising seven wonderful children. So, in our family, first of all, we treat Christmas as an important traditional Ukrainian holiday. Because these are fabulous days for children and loved ones. Besides, our children are baptized in the Christian faith, six in the Orthodox rite, and Lida, our youngest daughter, in the Roman Catholic church. And so we don’t have any arguments in the family about which date to celebrate Christmas. We celebrate, we rejoice, we walk, we give gifts to each other on St. Nicholas, and from Dec. 24 to 25,and on New Year’s Day, and from Jan. 6 to 7.

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Volodymyr Lavrenchuk, banker:

The understanding of Christmas as a holiday came to me as an adult. It might not have happened if the Bolshevik dictatorship had survived. With independence, the world, free and strong, became close in terms of culture and values. It is important for me what to celebrate and with whom to celebrate. That’s why I’m in favor of Dec. 25. And what’s also important is without “them” (Russia - ed.)

Yevhenia Kravchuk, MP, deputy head of the Servants of the People faction:

Traditionally, I will celebrate twice. I come from a town in Ternopil Oblast, where there is a church, to which we go (with my family) on Dec. 24 or 25, either for service or something. There are also different versions of nativity scenes.

Meanwhile, 12 lenten dishes and kutia are also traditionally prepared on Christmas Eve, Jan. 6, and then we have a family gathering on Christmas Day, Jan. 7. I’m Greek Catholic, but Greek Catholics also celebrate according to the Julian calendar, so it’s completely normal. Moreover, it can be our advantage when Ukraine becomes a member of the European Union: while (in Europe in January) all the Christmas markets are already closed, the Christmas and New Year season is still ongoing in Ukraine in January and attracting tourists from the EU to see traditions, listen to carols, and then there is Malanka (a Ukrainian folk holiday celebrated on Jan. 13, which is New Year's Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar). This can become our unique offer on the tourist market.

From the point of view of religious communities, it is obvious that this should be a voluntary choice for the churches and communities themselves. This will happen gradually and must definitely be voluntary. As for the state, the state has provided such an opportunity (to celebrate), because Dec. 25 has been a public holiday and a day off for several years now.

It seems to me that celebrating twice has certain advantages and interest. And whoever wants to completely switch to Dec. 25, it’s obvious that over time this will happen quite organically.

Yulia Sinkevich, producer, founder of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Film Academy:

Since childhood (and my childhood began in the Soviet Union, when Christmas, especially in cities, was not a holiday), I celebrated Christmas from Dec. 24 to 25. My grandmother was Latvian and moved to Ukraine when she married my grandfather. She always followed the tradition of celebrating Catholic Christmas, and that’s how this holiday entered my life.

I, of course, am in favor of Christmas being celebrated on these dates, since for many years it was something “unofficial” for our family and in general, I think it unites us with European countries.

Nata Zhyzhchenko, musician, lead singer of the band ONUKA:

Finally, everything worked out. I started (celebrating) from (St.) Nicholas day. We celebrated Nicholas on Dec. 6 – we put a toy under our son’s pillow, and this is the first time he understood what kind of holiday it was. Finally, we have St. Nicholas instead of Father Frost, who in general, if we go into the historical depths, was an evil hero from the beginning.

We will celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, without the remnants of “sovok” (slang for the USSR - ed.). It is clear that (the day before) there will be Christmas Eve for the whole family in unison with the whole civilized world.

And what’s important is that Dec. 31 will now be Malanka and New Year at the same time. Because the New Year is still a calendar date, a special one, it is also a start of a new countdown, an opportunity to turn the page. And Malanka, in general, the most favorite holiday from folklore, is the opportunity to dress up in costumes, sing songs, falls just on New Year’s. In this way, the (New Year’s) holiday coincides with the ethnic one.

And it seems to me that finally everything turned out as it should have been, without all these “old” New Years and other nonsense. I think that it is logical: to reject everything artificial, superimposed and (everything) terrible that we had to endure for centuries.

Kira Rudyk, MP, head of the Holos party:

This time I will celebrate Christmas twice – on Dec. 25 and Jan. 7, since not all relatives and friends have yet moved to the new way. I hope that next year we will all switch to one date – Dec. 25 and celebrate with the whole Western world.

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Such a transition is as symbolically important as the renaming of streets and the abandonment of the Russian language and culture. Ukraine is a part of Western civilization and its traditions.

Also, Christmas on Dec. 25 is more attractive from an operational and logistical point of view in interaction with partners, where joint vacations do not stretch for almost a month.

Ihor Zakharenko, general director of the Feeria travel agency:

Everything will depend on the situation at the front. That is, it will depend on where we will be. We plan to gather as a whole large family (for Christmas Eve) on Dec. 24. My family, my older brother’s family who escaped from the occupation from Zaporizhzhya Oblast between Polohy and Mariupol, and the middle brother who was wounded near Slovyansk.

Further – to be honest, we haven’t planned yet. Neither New Year nor (Christmas Eve) Jan. 6. Maybe all these dates I and my son will be somewhere in the East.

As for the celebration, I am for Dec. 25. Of course, all other holidays should also be celebrated in this way.

Ivan Kompan, founder of First Kyiv Investment Club:

If it were my will, I would immediately switch all church holidays to the Gregorian calendar, thereby taking another step towards the civilized world. The Orthodox Church, under the leadership of Moscow, dragged us back into the past for years, hating and destroying everything Ukrainian. The sooner we forget about it, break all ties and stop following the wild medieval dogmas that this church preaches, the sooner we realize the historic chance to build a new prosperous country.

And as for the celebration in general, there is no doubt – it is necessary to celebrate. Christmas is a magical holiday when dreams come true. Christ is being born and let’s believe that a new Ukraine is also being born.

Ihor Humennyy, president of the commercial and industrial holding UBC Group:

I will celebrate both dates. But the state of Ukraine should encourage the OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine) to switch to the Gregorian calendar. Celebration according to the Julian calendar is atavism and anachronism. It is high time to synchronize with the civilized world. In 1918, we switched to the Gregorian calendar in civil life, and it is high time in spiritual life as well.

Andriy Khudo, chairman of the supervisory board of the !Fest creative projects and restaurants, in particular Kryivka in Lviv:

My family and I celebrate Dec. 25. Until 1939, Christmas in Lviv was also celebrated on December 25. But the fact that Dec. 25 and Jan. 7 will be celebrated in Ukraine is wonderful, because people will have more happiness and positive emotions, which Ukraine needs very much now.

Solomiya Vitvitska, the TSN host on 1+1 TV channel:

Before, I always celebrated Christmas on Jan. 7. If we look historically – how and why the dates differ so much, then, I understand, it is quite logical that now, at the official level, the date of Dec. 25 in Ukraine has also become determined for the celebration of Christmas. Like Dec. 7.

But the main thing, I believe, is still a family atmosphere, when everyone gathers at the same table, gives each other good mood, gifts. And it’s important that it unites us even more.

Oleksandr Smirnov, partner and co-owner of the Tabasco agency:

We will celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, like all civilized humanity, because the body must be ready for the New Year in a stress-free way: you need to stretch your stomach and train your liver. And on Jan. 7, I will already celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. Everything is coming together very well!

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