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How to Celebrate Christmas with Ukrainian Women

snowy night over town
Most Ukrainian families look forward to Christmas dinner.

For some people, Christmas can be one of the most hectic times of the year. There is so much holiday preparation to do and everything can feel like a whirlwind of social parties and celebratory gifts.

If you have a girlfriend or wife who is Ukrainian or has Ukrainian heritage, she might invite you to travel and celebrate the Christmas traditions in her home country. If she does, this would be a great way to bond and get closer with her.

But before you pack your travel essentials, you need to know how Ukrainians celebrate Christmas. You might think Ukrainian Christmas traditions follow the same practices in the west, but surprisingly enough, they have differences in areas that you might not expect.

For example, Ukraine follows the Julian calendar and celebrates Christmas on January 7th. So they end up celebrating Christmas twice. Once during December 25 and the second Christmas on January 7th.

So far, Ukrainians still follow the religious Christmas tradition centered around Christianity and have been able to avoid the influence of commercialization. So expect to observe traditions and customs that follow closely to the Christian teachings of Jesus Christ.

Here is how you can celebrate Christmas with her:

Spend Christmas with her family

In Ukraine, the Christmas holiday is a time of joy and celebration. Family members typically gather and spend the holiday together, singing, eating, drinking, and talking with merriment.

So it makes sense that she wants to spend most of her Christmas with her family. Several parts of Ukraine celebrate Christmas differently, but they follow the same Christian traditions and acknowledge their pagan roots as well.

One thing to note is that in Ukrainian culture, they give a toast to each other with a glass of vodka. Many locals consider this to be a gesture of friendship and goodwill, so if you happen to travel with her and visit her family, you might be expected to drink as part of their custom.

Christmas gifts

Once you arrive in a Ukrainian home, it’s a traditional custom to bring gifts for your host. You can bring flowers, imported liquor, chocolates, or pastries.

Most of them appreciate it if the gifts are nicely wrapped, though they won’t open them right away. It’s normal for Ukrainians to put gifts away while entertaining guests.

During Christmas, Ukrainian gift-giving is only reserved for close friends and family. So if you receive a present from your Ukrainian family, consider it a compliment since they consider you as a part of their circle.

Christmas meal

For Ukrainians, the main Christmas meal is called Sviata Vecheria (which means Holy Supper). This is usually eaten on Christmas Eve, which falls on the 6th of January.

Some follow this tradition and usually fast for the entire day until the first night star appears in the sky. The star represents the story of the three wise men who followed the star to find Jesus.

Traditional Ukrainian Christmas food consists of 12 dishes that represent the 12 disciples of Jesus. The dishes do not contain any meat, milk, or eggs because Ukrainian tradition celebrates the Nativity fast.

This means the meals are all Lenten dishes. If there is meat on the table, it’s usually a pike or herring dish. Other traditional Christmas dishes include vegetarian borscht, vareniki with potato fillings, holopchi (cabbage rolls), cabbage buns, and kolach, which is special Christmas bread.

Traditional Christmas drinks served are called Uzvar. It’s a common fruit drink brewed from dried cherries, apples, pears, and apricots.

Christmas spider

In some parts of western Ukraine, Christmas trees decorated with artificial spider webs or paper and silver wire are commonly seen in some households.

This is taken from the legend of the Christmas spider. It tells the story of a poor family who couldn’t afford decorations for Christmas.

When the family goes to sleep on Christmas Eve, a spider comes out and covers their tree with its silk web.

On Christmas morning, the cobwebs magically turn into beautiful shimmery strands of gold and silver which decorate the tree.

It’s a popular story commonly found in various parts of western Europe and has several other versions. They believe that finding a spider web on the Christmas tree is considered good luck.

If you’re wondering, these decorations are called pavuchky, which means little spider.

Go caroling

In most Ukrainian villages, people go out caroling before the eve of the main Christmas dinner. Known as kolyadki, some families sing songs around the table while others might prefer to go out and carol in the streets.

Some carollers, such as children or teenagers, may go around from different homes to sing Christmas songs and collect donations. They sing songs and generally wish the homeowner good blessings for the next year.

The majority of homeowners usually welcome these carolers and give them gifts. They believe giving well-wishers candy or treats can grant them good luck throughout the next year.

Special Christmas greetings

woman adding decorations on christmas tree
Among the many unique Ukrainian Christmas traditions is decorating Christmas trees with artificial spider webs.

In the west, the usual Christmas greeting is Merry Christmas. In Ukraine, the typical Ukrainian greeting is ‘Веселого Різдва’ Veseloho Rizdva (Happy/Merry Christmas) or ‘Христос Рождається’ Khrystos Rozhdayetsia (Christ is Born).

So if you happen to visit her family in Ukraine, you’ll be prepped with the knowledge of how to return Christmas greetings in their language.

Also, take note that these greetings are only up until the eve of January 7, since that is when Christ was born. After that, there’s no need to greet people with “Merry Christmas” anymore.

Spending Christmas with your Ukrainian wife or girlfriend is a great chance to dive into a new culture. You’ll be able to witness their local Christmas traditions and their warm hospitality as you join in with the merriment.

Do you have a special someone to spend the Christmas holidays with? Want to try dating an East European woman? Then why not give international matchmaking a try?

There are tons of single Ukrainian women who are looking for love and a committed relationship. And who knows, you might be lucky enough to meet someone special along the way!

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