Christmas traditions in Ukraine

Anush Yepremyan

Ukrainian and Armenian Christmas is on Jan. 7. The Christmas holidays immediately evoke childhood memories, because Christmas is a family holiday. It is a tradition to sit down at the table during the emergence of the first stars because our ancestors believed that stars lit the way to Jesus.

When the first stars appear in the sky, it is the sign that the holiday started and it is time to celebrate. There is always a traditional Christmas dish on the table – kutia.

In old times, before proceeding to dinner, unmarried girls would take a spoon of kuti and go outside and see which direction the dog would bark. It meant that their second half was living in that direction.

The most interesting part begins after the feast – Christmas Eve. Nobody sleeps that night because you might miss your happiness. Besides, how one can fall asleep when there are songs are being sung and laughter is everywhere? The Christmas carols begin. It used to be a pagan custom that turned into a glorification of Jesus Christ after the adoption of Christianity.

Children of different ages and some young people dress up in homemade or national costumes, go door to door and sing simple songs for which they receive goodies or money as rewards. The songs are about the birth of Christ, and it praises the warmth of the hearth. These songs and carols wish joy, happiness and health, as well as a rich harvest, to the hosts. It is an integral part of the Christmas holidays.

Goat is the main symbol of Christmas carols. Kids choose a cheerful young male to dress in a costume of a goat. He dances the whole evening in front of the hosts of the house and in front of the whole crowd of carols. It is believed that he gives joy and happiness to those who he touches. According to legend, the goat is a symbol of fertility, rich harvest and it protects the house from evil forces.

The more entertaining and fun you have in celebrations, the better the year will be. People sing, dance and play family games.

Today, the ritual of caroling is not only a tribute to the customs, but it is also an excellent opportunity to get close with your neighbors, friends, relatives and, of course, children. Believe me, they will thank you with a happy glow on their eyes that outshines even the brightest Christmas star.