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International Corner: Winter Celebrations in Ukraine vs. America

Christmas decorations around campus | Photo by Jessica Fugett | The Wright State Guardian

While Christmas remains one of the most celebrated holidays across the US, Ukraine and some other countries in Eastern Europe celebrate New Year’s as their main winter holiday. 

It can be explained by the fact that Orthodox Christmas is on Jan. 7. Therefore, it is more convenient to start the holiday season on the night of New Year’s Eve. 

There are major differences in celebrating the winter holidays, and especially New Year, between the US and Ukraine. 

Most Ukrainians start to put up their New Year’s Tree somewhere between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, then celebrate the New Year and Christmas (Jan. 7) and keep the New Year Tree up until Old New Year, Jan. 14. 

In contrast, families in the US go back to the office on Jan. 4 and go back to a normal schedule, when the parties may still go on at this time in Ukraine.

Some prefer to spend their time with their family during New Year’s or watching movies, but some organize a big party with friends and traditional tasty dishes. Something they have in common – waiting till 12 a.m. to make a wish, drinking champagne, and watching the President’s speech. 

Everyone knows the rule “The way you spend New Year’s Eve is the same way you’ll spend the rest of the year.”

In Ukraine,  children believe in Grandfather Frost instead of Santa Claus. He even has a young granddaughter Snow maiden, who helps him. Kids try to prepare a small performance like dancing or singing for them in order to get a gift.

When it comes to presents, New Year’s Eve or the next day is the best for their unpacking. Consequently, there are no presents on Orthodox Christmas, which is seven days later.

Despite the differences in celebrating the winter holidays, both Americans and Ukrainians like to enjoy New Year’s fireworks that bring some kind of magic, happiness, and unity.

Olha Zuban

Social Media Assistant