Peaceful Holidays in Kiev, Ukraine

Peaceful Holidays in Kiev, Ukraine

Preparations for a peaceful and joyous 2015 holiday season are underway in St. Sophia Square in the center of Kiev, Ukraine. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s affiliate office in Kiev, shared this photo of the square’s holiday tree taking shape.

St. Sophia’s 18th century blue bell tower stands on the east side of thousand-year-old St. Sophia Cathedral, festive in its green and gold cupolas. Built by Byzantine and Kievan masters in the early 11th century, the cathedral (now a museum) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The holiday tree, decorated with apples, oranges, nuts, candies and gingerbread cookies, serves to mark three holiday dates. The tree has to be up and ready in time to celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas, December 19, when the gift-giving saint leaves a little something for good girls and boys. In the old days, mothers would bake gingerbread cookies on the eve of the feast, and St. Nicholas would leave them in a child’s boot that was specially cleaned and set on the windowsill. (Luba says that her son used to clean all his boots and leave them in all the available windows on the eve of St. Nicholas Day.)

Next is New Year’s Eve, which the Soviets encouraged people to celebrate as a secular winter feast to replace Christmas. New Year’s Eve is still the biggest event of the year in Ukraine, with feasting until midnight, then greeting the New Year and giving gifts.

Finally, the holiday season draws to a close with Orthodox Christmas, celebrated on January 7 all over the Eastern Orthodox world. A feast with 12 dishes is served on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas, the children go from house to house singing kolyada, special Christmas songs, for treats and cookies.

Veselykh Svyat” – Merry Christmas from Luba in Kiev.


Top photo: St. Sophia Square in the center of Kiev, Ukraine. Photo credit: Luba Rudenko

PUBLISHED: December 16, 2015

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