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07 Dec. 2023

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Ukrainian Christmas traditions: how do people celebrate Christmas in different regions of the country?

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Ukrainian Christmas traditions: how do people celebrate Christmas in different regions of the country?

Christmas traditions in different regions of Ukraine are based on centuries of history and culture. Find out more about the origins and peculiarities of some Christmas customs of Ukrainians from different parts of the country

Looking for a winter vacation? The largest selection of tours in Ukraine
Looking for a winter vacation? The largest selection of tours in Ukraine
HERE


Christmas is a very important holiday for Ukrainians, it is considered the second biggest holiday in Ukraine after Easter, and there are many traditions and rituals associated with it. However, different regions of the country have many peculiarities of Christmas celebration, which are based not only on centuries-old history and culture, but also on geographical location and even neighborhood with other countries.


The article below explains how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of Ukraine and what these special traditions are about.


Celebrating Christmas in Ukraine: traditions of different regions of the country


Zakarpattia, Galicia, Hutsul, and Bukovyna


The western part of Ukraine has its own special traditions of Christmas celebration, as the mountain traditions of the Boikos, Lemkos and Hutsuls are intertwined with Hungarian and Romanian traditions. For example:


▶︎ In the mountainous regions, Christmas Eve is not called Christmas Eve, but Korochun. This name, as well as certain traditions, such as the preparation of a festive cake, came to the region through the influence of Hungary.

▶︎ In the lowland areas of Zakarpattia, kutia is not a mandatory dish for everyone; in some villages, it is replaced by bobalky. Bobalky are dough balls that are first baked and then steamed for a while and sprinkled with poppy seeds or nuts.

▶︎ In Prykarpattia, there is still a tradition of visiting the cemetery with kutia and a candle before the start of the holy dinner. This is how Ukrainians invite their closest deceased relatives to the table. And after returning home, it is customary to blow out your seat at the table so as not to accidentally sit on the soul of your ancestor.

▶︎ In Galicia and Lemkivshchyna, it is customary to bring proskurki (unleavened bread) from church and put it on a bowl of honey.

▶︎ In some regions of the Lviv region, locals still weave straw spiders, which are a protection for the house and a symbol of fertility for women.

▶︎ In Bukovyna (the western part of Chernivtsi region), it is customary to sit down to the festive table very early so that children are not afraid to go carolling after Christmas Eve.


Polissia


Polissia (the modern northern districts of Volyn, Rivne, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions) also has some unique features. For example, while it is customary to cook 12 dishes in Ukraine, not all districts in Polissia follow this tradition. This is primarily due to the fact that in ancient times, many locals could not afford even wheat kutia with honey, and therefore cooked it with barley, and therefore prepared as much as they could for the table.

Polissia also has its own unique dish, burda, which is made from crushed and fried hemp seeds, and then blueberries and wild pears are added.

In addition, in some areas, garlic heads are still placed around the edges of the table to protect the house from evil spirits.




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Central Ukraine 


Today, not many ancient traditions have survived in the central regions of Ukraine, but in the Kyiv and Cherkasy regions, unlike other regions of the country, women usually carried kutia and kuput.


Southern regions of Ukraine


In the south of Ukraine, the tradition of taking a holy dinner to one's godparents has been preserved. Children bring kutia, candy, and other goodies to their godparents, and in return they receive money and sweets.


Eastern Ukraine


In eastern Ukraine, it is customary to cook kutia from rice and put pies (varenyky) on the table.


When do people sing carols in Ukraine?


The start of caroling also depends on the region of the country. For example, in Pokuttya, caroling is performed on Christmas Eve on Christmas Eve, on the left bank of Ukraine, in the Sloboda region, and in the Hutsul region on the first day of Christmas after the service.


Where to celebrate Christmas in Ukraine?


Today, the western regions of the country have the most color and special Christmas atmosphere. Therefore, for those who want to plunge into a special fairy-tale atmosphere and see with their own eyes the embodiment of ancient Ukrainian traditions in modern life, we recommend going on a mini-trip to Zakarpattia. We told you about the places to visit and where to look for the special Christmas spirit earlier.

Find more New Year and winter tours in Ukraine here.


We remind you! For the second year in a row, Ukraine will celebrate New Year's holidays in the midst of a full-scale war, and planning even a family evening in such circumstances is a challenge with an asterisk. Read how and where you can celebrate the New Year to give yourself and your children at least one evening of New Year's miracle in our previous article.


Photo: Getty Images


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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