Christmas in Ukraine: St. Nicholas Day Celebration
Christmas celebrations begin early in Ukraine and they center on faith, food and family members past and present. Saint Nicholas’ Day in particular is celebrated on December 19th and is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. The tradition of celebrating St. Nicholas Day came to Ukraine with Christianity during the rule of the prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich. Saint Nicholas was always considered to be a patron saint for children.
Shortly before the holiday, Ukrainian children (often with the help of their parents) write letters to Saint Nicholas listing all of their wishes – material (new toys or goods) and spiritual (health and happiness for parents, relatives and friends).
Children then wait for St. Nicholas to come and put a present under their pillows provided they were good during the year. St. Nicholas Day in Ukraine is a bright and joyful holiday. Parents and grandparents teach children the story of St. Nicholas’ life and share with them to be as kind, laborious, charitable, and honest as Saint Nicholas was.
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