Ukrainian Holidays and Culture....
January 1st - New Year's Day
January 7th - Orthodox Christmas
March 8th - International Women’s Day
April - May - Orthodox Easter
50 days after Easter - Holy Trinity Day
May 1st & 2nd - Labor (May) Day
May 9th - Victory Day
June 28th - Constitution Day
August 24th - Independence Day
January 22nd - Ukrainian Unity Day (Den Sobornosti)
January 24th - Old Calendar New Year
January 25th - "Students Day" otherwise known as "Tatyana's Day"
February 14th - St. Valentine's Day
February 23rd - Men's Day (formerly known as The Soviet Army Day)
April 1st - Fool Day (the Day of laughter)
May 13th - Mother’s Day
Third weekend of May - Europe Day
Last Sunday of May - Kiev Day Kiev (Kyiv)
June 1st - International Child Protection Day
June 5th – World Environmental Protection Day
June 6th - Ivan Kupala Day
June 6th - Day of Journalists
June 20th (Third Sunday of June) - Day of Medical Workers
June 22nd - Day of Sorrow and Remembrance of Victims of War
June 24th - Youth Day
Last Friday of June - Graduation Day
August 1st (first Sunday of August) - Navy Day
September 1st - The Day of Knowledge
September 27th – World Tourism Day
October 5th - Teacher's Day
October 8th - Lawyer's Day
December 6th - Ukrainian Army Day
December 19th - St. Nicolas Day
December 25th - Christmas
love their numerous holidays and like to "celebrate" those holidays in
grandiose fashion. It's not uncommon for westerners to be surprised at
just how many holidays they observe and the amount of fireworks and fun
that goes along with them. Ukraine's history that included Paganism and
later Christianity can be attributed to the evolution of many of its
current holidays and celebrations.
State Holidays (banks are closed)
1 January - New Year's Day
It is one of the favorite holidays in Ukraine. As in Western countries on
Christmas Eve, Ukrainians give "New Year" presents. Children receive
their presents under the New Year Tree on the morning of the 1st of
January. Traditionally, just prior to midnight there's a Presidential
speech broadcast nationally. When the clock strikes midnight, people pop
open their champagne bottles and raise a toast. With the first glass
they congratulate each other as the clock strikes 12 times and fireworks
fill the sky. The week before the New Year is a busy one with shopping,
parties at work, decorating pine and fir-trees, and cooking the most
delicious meals. The main folk heroes of this holiday are Father Frost
(Did Moroz) and his grand-daughter "Sniguron'ka" (The Snow Girl). The
tradition of predicting fortunes on this night is very popular among
One tradition includes writing down on a piece of
paper your wish for the coming year, then dropping it in to your
champagne and drinking it as the clock strikes twelve times. Another
"fun" folk tradition practiced mainly in the villages on New Years night
is for the unmarried girls to go outside and throw one of their boots
over the Hosts' fence. Whichever way the toe of the boot ends up
pointing indicates where the future husband will come from.
Nearly all businesses remain closed from December 31st to January 8th.
7 January - Orthodox Christmas
period from the 7th until the 14th of January is Saint Christmas week.
During this week people go from one house to another, singing songs and
wishing good wishes to health, prosperity, etc. and just having a good
time. Most usually are dressed in folksy or carnival type costumes. This
is called "Kolyaduvannya" and "Schedruvannya". The songs are called
"kolyadky" and "schedrivky". When somebody is singing these songs and
greeting you, as a rule you should give them sweets or food or drinks or
whatever you have as a token of appreciation. It is believed that
everything that the people have sung in their Kolyadka and Schedrivka
will come true.
Also during the new year holidays, up to the 14th
of January it is common for kids (and sometimes adults-in the villages)
to go from one house to another wishing the owner of the house new year
wishes, new happiness, health, etc. All those wishes are usually said
in rhymes and with the spreading of seeds, such as wheat or other
grains. This shows a wish of prosperity for the house. This practice is
called "Posivannya". Some token, usually food, drink, sweets, or money,
is usually given in return.
8 March - International Women’s Day
Women’s Day is considered the first Spring Holiday in Ukraine. It is an
official day off as both men and women look forward to this holiday. It
originated as a day of fighting for women's rights, when on the 8th of
March 1897 women (workers of sewing and shoe factories) gathered in New
York demanding 10 hour working days, light and dry work places and equal
salaries with men. In 1910 at the International Conference of Women
Socialists in Copenhagen, Clara Tsetkin proposed celebrating the
International Women's day on March, 8th which sounded an appeal to all
women of the world to join in the struggle for equality.
International Women's day on March, 8th has been a State Holiday of the
Former Soviet Union since the countries inception. Beginning in 1965 it
was recognized as an official day off. The holiday enjoyed vast
celebratory rituals, including public meetings involving officials at
various levels of government in an attempt to report the governments
efforts in supporting Women's Rights and issues concerning them.
International Women's day became less political and more personal.
After disintegration of the Soviet Union , March, 8th has remained on
the list of State Holidays in nearly all of the CIS countries including
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Moldova, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia as the "International Women's
Day". In Uzbekistan it is referred to as the " Day of Mother".
Armenia it is celebrated on April, 7th as the "Day of Motherhood and
Beauty". Currently in the CIS it is also thought of as the "Day of
Spring" and the "Day of all Women", mothers, grandmothers, sisters,
daughters, wives and girlfriends. Unlike Mother's Day "every" woman
expects to receive flowers and gifts. After disintegration of the Soviet
Union , March, 8th has remained on the list of State Holidays in nearly
all of the CIS countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan,
Kirghizia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Belarus, and
Russia as the "International Women's Day". In Uzbekistan it is referred
to as the " Day of Mother". In Armenia it is celebrated on April, 7th as
the "Day of Motherhood and Beauty". Currently in the CIS it is also
thought of as the "Day of Spring" and the "Day of all Women", mothers,
grandmothers, sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends. Unlike Mother's
Day "every" woman expects to receive flowers and gifts.
April - May - Orthodox Easter
weeks following the Catholic Easter Holiday is the main Christian
Orthodox Holiday established to honor the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
following his Crucifixion on the cross and to the coming out of the Jews
from Egypt. The date of Easter is usually determined by the Church
calendar and calculated according to the so-called "Paskhalias" (the
name for the "special tables".) Before and during Easter Ukrainians buy
or bake Easter cakes (biscuits with raisins),and hand paint eggs widely
known as Pysanka. It is a very important holiday. On Easter night people
go to their local church, spending the entire night in Church services!
Usually they take with them Easter cakes, painted eggs, and bottles of
wine. In the morning (about 4 am) the service concludes with the
clergyman sprinkling all food with sacred water which is believed to
give strong healing powers. At this time people return home to continue
the celebration with food and drink throughout the the day. The
traditional greeting on this day is: "Khrystos Voskres!" (Christ is
arisen) and the answer "Voyistynu Voskres!" (Truly arisen) followed with
kisses and the exchanging of gifts.
50 days after Easter - Holy Trinity Day (Svyata Troyitsya)(or "Green Sunday"
holiday is dedicated to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the
Apostles on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Christ (Easter).
This event gave rise to Christianity. The meaning of the Holy Trinity is
thus: God the Father laid the basis for the church in the Old
Testament, the Son brought its meaning into words, and the Spirit acts
within it. On this holiday people decorate their houses and apartments
with Calamus (an herb) and assorted green branches.
tradition comes from ancient Judaism, in which the Pentecost, the Feast
of Harvest, was celebrated outside amongst flourishing Nature. On Holy
Trinity Day people go to a cemetery to visit the tombs of relatives and
friends who have passed away. In this holiday has emerged the custom of
leaving food on the burial tombs of loved ones though no one claims it's
significance or relevance to Christianity.
leave some vodka or other alcohol and something to eat along with it,
such as a piece of bread or candy. It is considered a good sign to find
that the food and drinks have disappeared upon your next trip to the
cemetery! Holy Trinity Day is a very important religious holiday in
1 - 2 May - Labor (May) Day
The 1st of May
historically has been the traditional holiday of Spring. During the
Industrialization of the Nineteenth Century, it became an International
Day of Solidarity for workers of all countries.
The 1st of May
began to be widely celebrated with various groups of workers joining
together and paying tribute to the memory of victims of oppression and
for the rights of all oppressed workers irrespective of their
nationality, sex, age and/or profession. In it's convention of 1888 the
"American Federation of Labour" declared, that May the1st should become a
day for the active struggle of workers for the eight-hour work day.
and Demonstrations were held worldwide. Later, in the former Soviet
Union, this holiday was widely and actively celebrated with huge parades
and political speeches on Red Square in Moscow and in all other cities.
workers of the Soviet Union including university and school students,
were obligated to attend the parades, bringing flowers, balloons and
posters. Non compliance was met with severe persecution.
many of the CIS countries, including Ukraine, you can still find some
political gathering to celebrate May Day. At this time however, this
holiday has become a celebration as the day of triumph for "Nature",
from which is a full bloom with birds' singing, trees budding, and
multicolored flowers painting the countryside. In this celebration
people look forward to warm weather and the joys of summer.
9 May — Victory Day
is a holiday of both joy and sorrow. A great tribute is bestowed to
those who gave their lives during World War II resulting in today's
peace and happiness. The eternal memory of those lost will last forever
throughout the generations. Veterans gather together remembering those
who perished. Every city has an area on this holiday in which people
gather called "The Eternal Fire". In Kiev it is located near the famous
WWII museum and the "Motherland" Statue and Monument.
28 June - Constitution Day
this day in 1998 the Constitution of Independent Ukraine was adopted.
Fireworks and various concerts and musical events are common throughout
24 August - Independence Day
is Ukraine's largest State holiday, which commemorates the adoption in
1990 of the "Declaration of Sovereignty" of Ukraine. Impressive
fireworks displays and noteworthy concerts throughout the capital Kyiv
and the rest of the country.
NOTE: If any of the above official
holidays fall on Saturday or Sunday, it is customary for the following
Monday to be an official public holiday also. The Cabinet of Ministers
of Ukraine may also transfer Monday or Friday" work days" to the
preceding or following Saturday ONLY if any of the above holidays fall
on the corresponding Tuesday or Thursday.
14 January - Old Calendar New Year
Old Calendar New Year celebrated as a family holiday. See more above under 7 January - Orthodox Christmas.
22 January - Ukrainian Unity Day (Den Sobornosti)
Unity Day (Den Sobornosti) is an important historical event in Ukraine.
It goes back to the date when Eastern and Western Ukraine were united.
On this day in 1919 the "Treaty of Unity" between Ukrainians was signed
and the unity of all Ukrainian lands previously belonging to the Russian
Empire (UNR) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was solemnly proclaimed on
Sofijivska Square in Kyiv. "Den Sobornosti" is the symbol of
territorial and spiritual unity of Ukraine as a unified sovereign state.
25 January - "Students Day" otherwise known as "Tatyana's Day"
Day is a pleasant and upbeat holiday highlighting the best, brightest,
and most carefree years in the life of every student. On this day, all
former classmates tend to grow nostalgic, and recall their fellow
students, Deans and Principals as well as recalling memorable student
years. The holiday's origin goes far back into history.
12th of January according to the Old Calendar (Jan 25 New Calendar) in
1775, being the day of "Maiden Tatyana the Martyr", Empress Elisabeth
Petrovna signed the regulation "Concerning the foundation of Moscow
University." This project was developed by the famous Russian Scientist
Mikhail Lomonosov and later continued by Ivan Shuvalov.
chose this day to sign the regulation not by accident. as he desired to
present it as a gift to his mother Tatiana Petrovna on her Name Day. "I
am giving you a University", said Shuvalov. On Easter, 1791 the "Church
of Tatyana the Martyr" was opened. Later, Nikolay " I" disposed in his
Decree to celebrate, not the opening of the University, but the signing
of the regulation regarding its foundation. On this holiday all kinds of
distinctions -of age and class, grades and ranks, were cancelled, Rich
and poor were equalized - All felt themselves as fellow citizens of the"
Scientific Republic ”. On this holiday the kitchen was preparing for
the students cold snacks along with vodka, cheap wine, and beer. You
could find seated at the table favourite professors, popular
journalists, students, lawyers, and administrative figures. Vladimir
Giljarovsky, describing Tatyana's day, truthfully recalls the popularity
of a rhyme “"Pyana - Tatyana” which translated means "Drunken Tatyana".
Yes, it was a loose, and at times a disgracefully loose holiday. So,
thanks to the love of Mother by an omnipotent favorite of Shuvalov, and
the decree of emperor Nikolay "I", Sacred Martyress Tatyana has turned
into a "Patroness" of the students, and the day of her commemoration
turned into a reckless revelry. Nowadays, on this winter day we
congratulate students of all generations. With feelings of gratitude we
recollect the teachers who opened the Temple of Sciences for us. Even
though this holiday is considered more of a Russian holiday, students in
Ukraine are celebrating it also as a youth holiday, for all of those
who keep the fire of creativity in their souls, with a thirst for
knowledge, search and discovery.
14 February - St. Valentine's Day
St. Valentine's Day inherited from Western culture, is now very popular in Ukraine.
23 February - Men's Day (formerly known as The Soviet Army Day)
is a tribute of respect to all the generations of Soviet soldiers and
military people who defended courageously our Motherland from invaders.
All men ,including boys, receive heart-felt greetings and gifts. Now,
this holiday is considered as an opposite to Women's Day on the 8th of
March, as all men get an opportunity to have their own holiday as well
So, women have an opportunity to say the warmest and sweetest words to
the men they love and to flatter them with attention.
1 April - Fool Day (the Day of laughter)
holiday is celebrated everywhere in Ukraine with people attempting to
get the best of each other through trickery and jokes. But nowhere is
this holiday taken more seriously than in Ukraine's port city of Odessa
where an impressive and light hearted parade is held annually to
celebrate both April Fools Day as well as Odessa itself as the "Humor
Capital" of the CIS.
13 May - Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a day when Ukrainians express their love, respect, and appreciation to their Mothers.
Third weekend of May - Europe Day
this weekend, Ukraine celebrates a day to show unity, respect and an
opportunity to magnify the public will and determination to join the
Union of European Nations. This holiday weekend is a major cultural
event. The Central Squares of Kiev and other large cities of Ukraine
host concerts, performances and shows highlighting European musicians,
artists, along with European cuisine as well.
Last Sunday of May - Kiev Day Kiev (Kyiv)
Sunday of May - Kiev Day Kiev (Kyiv) - the beautiful capital of Ukraine
celebrates her day. This is a time when chestnut trees - the symbolic
tree of Kiev - are in full bloom and sporting their wonderfully eloquent
"white candles". Spring is a great time to visit Ukraine's Capital Kiev
and see it with your own eyes.
1 June - International Child Protection Day
are the future of the mankind. And this day is their day. Kids right
for life and dignity must be respected and defended. What is sunnier,
joyful, and memorable than the childhood? A child gets to know the world
with the help of adults, learns and finds out new interesting things. A
child is happy when he is loved, warmed fed and understood. A lot of
different concerts, shows and games are held on this day.
5 June – World Environmental Protection Day
6 June - Ivan Kupala Day
Kupala Day is one of the great and enigmatic holidays signifying a
celebration in honour of the "God of the Sun" (or "Dazhbog". It is
believed that during this time of summer solstice, the sun is strongest,
before turning to the winter. They say that the Sun is a
personification of light, celebrating its victory over dark forces, so
as it rises it's "playing", "leaping" and feeling joyful. All Nature is
also joyful because of this, becoming special and charmed. The name of
the holiday is bound to the name of "Kupajla", who is the "Divinity of
Fertility",of the harvest, welfare and medicinal healing herbs and
plants. Traditional ceremonies are timed so as to celebrate in honor of
youth, beauty, love and purification.
On the 6th of July people
set off for the gathering of medical herbs and plants. They gather
healing herbs at dawn, far from the settlements and paths, all in a good
mood and praying. Folklore has it that besides medical properties
Kupal's'ki plants have a considerable magical effect. The main
Kupal's'ki ceremonies were taking place at night 6 - 7 July. Kupala
night is a special night.
Not only is it the most mysterious and
enigmatic but also the most dissolute night of the year. The people
believed that all Kupala's articles like chaplets, sprigs of sapling,
ash, dew and other items had had not only healing properties but also
considerable guarding forces from impure spirits as well as witches,
which were thought to be very active on Kupala's night. All night long
people keep Kupala bonfires burning, leaping over the flames, cleansing
themselves of ill and bad luck.
The remnants of the bonfire are
distributed to the participants, and maybe taken home, to protect
against evil forces. It was considered a good sign for their future if
young people, while jumping over the fire, would keep their hands locked
and their clothes un-scorched . Mothers burn shirts of ill children in
the Kupala fire as illnesses are believed to burn away with it.
next ceremony consists of purifying by another element. Water. Girls
try to dive in the water in such a way, that a chaplet from their hair
would float on the surface of the water. Sometimes girls were sending
their own personal chaplet with candles lit floating to the other side
of the river or lake as the young men would try to capture the chaplet
of his favorite girl. If not able to reach it from shore, some would
impatiently jump in the water and retrieve the girls chaplet. A kiss
awaits the bearer of each chaplet.
Especially enigmatic were
recitals relating to fern blossoms on Kupala night. In order to see it,
you have to go at night to the fern bush to spread under it a linen or
towel on which the Easter cake was sanctified. Next you must draw around
yourself a circle with the knife sanctified in the Church, sprinkle the
plant with sanctified water and read a prayer. Impure forces then try
to drive away and scare the man IE; wind, noise, blowing small rocks and
twigs. It will not, however, be able to overcome the outlined circle.
This is why you need to "fear not".
At midnight the fern begins
to bloom and fall on the linen. This is when you need to quickly rap the
linen and hide it with the fern blossoms in your bosom. Such bravery
rewards the person who did this to inherit the power to see how trees
walk from one place to another. To understand the language of birds,
animals, plants and trees. He will be able to locate treasure hidden in
the ground and retrieve it.
The highlight of the ritual is a
decoration of the sacral sapling - "kupaily" (kupailytsi, gil'tsya,
madder). Usually it is the branch of a willow, cherry or ash tree,
decorated by field flowers, paper ribbons, and burning candles. Girls
dance and sing about love and marriage around the "Kupaily". It is then
dipped in water and broken into pieces and given to the girls, "so they
would attain riches".
The Kupal'ska ritual is highly symbolic.
Kupal's'ki fires symbolize a cult of the Sun. Kupal's'ka water is a
symbol of healing power. A fern is a symbol of a happy future. Magic
Ivanivs'ka dew provides beauty and love, and the Kupala tree denotes
fertility and happiness.
The Kupala ritual, as with Ukrainians,
was widespread not only among the Slavic people, but also included other
segments of Europe and even India. In particular, Bulgarians believed
that on Kupala the Sun is "dancing" and "twirling the sabres". Polish
girls baked ceremonial "sun" cakes while Englishmen sought out the fern,
not for the sake of the blossom of a burning flower, but for its seeds
which can make a man invisible.
6 June - Day of Journalists
of Journalists There are many professional holidays in Ukraine, and
this is one of them. Being an independent journalist can be dangerous.
But at the same time, it is one of the most important and interesting
professions in providing people with unbiased information that they need
to understand the world around them.
20 June (Third Sunday of June) - Day of Medical Workers
important professional holiday. People in white garments are receiving
greetings and due respect for their hard and important work. But, try
not to get sick on this day, as all doctors, nurses, and health care
administrators will be getting together for some very, merry
22 June - Day of Sorrow and Remembrance of Victims of War
day was the beginning of World War II for the USSR. On this day in 1941
began one of the darkest pages of mankind, the Nazi invasion of the
Soviet Union. A long four years of war were marked with the heroic
battles of the Soviet people and their allies for liberation. Many were
killed. Nearly every family lost one of their loved ones. This day is to
remember those who fought for freedom and defended their families and
their country. This day is to remind us also about the terrible human
mistakes of the past and to prevent them in the future.
24 June - Youth Day
Youth Day is celebrated with a lot of fun, fireworks and concerts!
Last Friday of June - Graduation Day
end of June is well known as graduation time for schools, institutes
and universities. It is the time when all exams are passed and young
girls and boys receive their certificates or diplomas and thus enter
their new life.
1 August (first Sunday of August) - Navy Day
you are in Crimea, especially in Sevastopol, don't miss this day and
the opportunity to witness an expressive and impressive festival.
Parades, concerts and fireworks. A good time for all guaranteed!
1 September - The Day of Knowledge
is a serious holiday called the "Day of Open Doors" and includes all
Schools, Colleges, Universities and Institutes. It is celebrated as the
time when all students begin their new year studies. After a fun filled
hot summer students are going back to the "Land of Knowledge". The day
starts with meetings held next to each school. You'll see many nicely
dressed students carrying flowers everywhere.
27 September – World Tourism Day
World Tourism Day is a wonderful time to visit this site and Ukraine!!
October 5 - Teacher's Day
special day was created to focus the World's attention on the
contributions and achievements of teachers as well as their concerns and
priorities. Teachers receive special appreciation for all the hard work
8 October - Lawyer's Day
Lawyer's Day is another holiday in Ukraine that celebrates the legal profession.
6 December - Ukrainian Army Day
In 1991 the Decree regarding the establishment of the" Armed forces of Ukraine" was signed and is annually celebrated.
19 December - St. Nicolas Day
this day parents and relatives try to surprise their kids by placing
small gifts, toys, or books into symbolic shoes or stockings or even
under their pillows. St. Nicolas is the most well known Saint from the
KievanRus era. People consider him first to help with any appeal and
trouble. On December 19 he was beautified. Relics of St. Nicolas are
kept in Bara city, Greece where people are believed to be cured by a
single touch. This day opens the chain of winter holidays. Every child
who behaved during the year will receive a present from St. Nicolas on
this day. It has become traditional to present gifts to every child.
25 December - Christmas
day is celebrated with friends and family, but not like Christmas in
the USA. It's more of a day to relax and enjoy family, but without the
gifts. However, many families will buy and decorate a Christmas tree
(Yolka) just like in many other countries around the world.