The purpose of this post is to try to give some useful information on how Christmas and New Year are celebrated here in Ukraine versus western countries. Of course, if you are married to a Russian/Ukrainian lady, then you will be already familiar with most/all of what I am about to say...
To begin with, New Year is a much more important holiday for Ukrainian /Russian people than Christmas. We celebrate New Year on December 31-1st of January. We even have New Year tree instead of Christmas tree. Usually our people celebrate New Year for three or more days, but for the majority of older people, Christmas is a more important holiday and of course this is a big holiday for religious people. For younger people, especially those in their twenties, celebrating New Year on New Year's Eve makes them feel part of the international community and less isolated from the rest of the world. We start to say Happy New Year at midnight of December 31 and usually 2-3 days before, people can just say to each other” WITH COMING HOLIDAY”; this phrase is very common for us. To my mind, all the preparations for celebrating New Year are the same all over the world; that’s why there is no sense to describe. But I would like to mention what kind of tradition we have at midnight of December 31. Usually when the chiming clock starts to beat 12.00, people try to think of a treasured wish and we all believe that this wish will certainly come true. Then we drink champagne and say each other “Happy New Year!” Lots of people go outdoors and light fireworks. But it is not appropriate in our country to grab the nearest person and start kissing; so, be careful please, as it may cause not very good consequences. You may only kiss your wife or girlfriend.
Well, what about presents? I think it depends on your imagination; so I can only mention that there are no forbidden gifts on New Year and Christmas holidays. But, it is very common in our culture to give money to family members, as it is much easier when they buy what they really need or want. But nobody gives money on these holidays to friends - only presents. By the way, everybody knows that our women like to receive flowers almost on almost every occasion; of course, you can give flowers to your woman/wife, but in addition to a present, since giving only flowers is not very nice.
I would like to add some more information about our Christmas. In Ukraine/Russia we have Orthodox Christmas on January 6-7. Usually, we celebrate this holiday only with relatives. Majority of children buy cakes and go to visit their Godparents. In return, Godparents buy very good presents for them and treat the children with home made food and sweets. There are lots of traditions and customs of celebrating New Year holidays in villages and they are very interesting in their own way.
Regarding New Year and Christmas holidays, I can’t help mentioning Old New Year. We celebrate this holiday on January 13-14 and this is more of a religious holiday in comparison with New Year, which is a state holiday. A long time ago, our people celebrated New Year according to the Gregorian calendar; so it falls on 13-14. From January 1918 (i.e. after the October Revolution of 1917) with changing a power, we changed our traditions as well and started to celebrate New Year, according to the Julian calendar, on December 31-Jan1. That’s why we still have a tradition of celebrating Old New Year, especially among older people.
I wish everyone Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! And if you are still looking for that special someone to share your life with, I wish you the best of luck with your search in 2009!
thanks for all the info. we bought our combined "new year / christmas" tree yesterday! it's a lucky thing that they are exactly the same thing! i even had to take a piccie of it! olya is very very happy that we finally have a tree!
Very well written - your English is perfect, most definably better than all Australian's on here and better than mine.
You are from Kharkov - yes ???
Were did you study English - abroad or in Ukraine ???
I am married to a Kiev girl and we live in New Zealand. I visited Kharkov in 2003, in the Autumn, it was a lovely trip, also had a lovely host for 9 days, she also had perfect English.