January 1
New Year
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January 7
Christmas is the great Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world and Expiator who atoned for people’s sins (Ukrainians make the traditional Christmas Eve dish Kutya from cooked wheat combined with honey, ground poppy seeds, and sometimes chopped nuts).
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January 13-14
The Old New Year (Malanka and Vasyl), or Orthodox New Year, is celebrated according to the Julian calendar (Old Style). In the XX and XXI centuries, the Old New Year is held on January 14 beginning in the evening of January 13 by the Gregorian calendar (New Style). After the Julian calendar has been replaced by the New Style, the Old New Year is still informally observed in post-Soviet countries.
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January 19
Vodokhresche, literally “Taking baptism in the water” (Epiphany)
– Water is blessed by a priest on this day. In some cases, water is blessed directly in open air pools or ponds after holes have been cut into the ice. They are called “Yordan” to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
Believers cut holes in the ice before they can take the holy bath. According to Orthodox tradition, a priest would first say a prayer and bless a bathing site. Believers would get into the hole, submerge themselves in freezing water three times to honor the Holy Trinity and leave the bathing site. Ukrainians have, from time immemorial, believed the sick could recover when taking the holy bath. Ancestors thought the water gained healing powers at Epiphany night.
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February 12-18
Shrovetide (Maslyana) is the traditional Ukrainian Orthodox carnival celebrated during the week (sometimes three days) before the Great Lent. It starts a new cycle of courtship, a search for a mate to continue the bloodline (guests are treated to pancakes).
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February 14
St. Valentine’s Day (All lovers’ holiday).
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February 20
The Day of Heroes of the “Heavenly Hundred” is a commemorative day celebrated in Ukraine on February 20 in honor of the exploit of participants in the Revolution of Dignity and perpetuation of the memory of Heroes of Heavenly Hundred.
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March 8
International Women’s Day.
April 1
April Fools’ Day – “April 1st When You Can Lie at Most!” – a day of laughter and practical jokes.
April 7
Annunciation – in Christianity, Archangel Gabriel appeared to Virgin Mary in the Annunciation to tell her she was to conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit and to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. It is believed that the spring has finally overcome the winter on this day, God blesses the land and opens it for sowing. And it is a popular belief that only after the Annunciation can people begin farm work. It is considered a grave sin “to disturb” the land before the Annunciation Day.
April 28 (2019)
Easter – the oldest major festival of the Christian church year, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, people cook flavorous Easter cakes and colored Easter eggs, and bring them to church to be blessed by a priest.
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May 1
The spring and labor holiday is a symbol of the victory of workers in the struggle for their freedoms and rights. In fact, the International Workers’ Solidarity Day is designated the Labor Day, and May 1 and 2 are days of rest in Ukraine in accordance with the Labor Code.
May 8
Remembrance and Reconciliation Day is the commemoration of victims of the Second World War and a reconciliation between the countries participating in WWII. This is a commemorative day in Ukraine, marking the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s surrender (this event is seen as a symbol of the victory over Nazism).
May 12
Mother’s Day is the popular holiday to honor mothers.
May 16
The Vyshyvanka (Embroidered Shirt) Day is the international holiday, which is intended to preserve the original folk traditions of making and wearing ethnic Ukrainian embroidered clothes. It is celebrated annually on the third Thursday in May (weekday). The Vyshyvanka Day is intracultural and self-sufficient, bearing no relation to any national or religious holiday. Anyone may join Vyshyvanka Day celebration, wearing embroidered shirts. Donning “vyshyvnakas”, many Ukrainians would go to work, university, school or kindergarten on this day.
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June 1
International Children’s Day.
June 16 (2019)
The Holy Trinity Day (Green Holiday) is one of the most revered ancient Christian feasts that is annually celebrated in Ukraine on the Sunday concluding the 50-day period following Easter, hence the name “Pentecost”. Many Slavic peoples call it the Spirit’s Day in honor of the Holy Spirit, which is one of the three persons of the Godhead. It is believed that the apostles learned all the fullness of the Holy Trinity on this very day and they beheld three persons of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
June 28
Ukraine’s Constitution Day is the public holiday in this country. It is observed each year on June 28 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution on the same day of 1996.
June 30, 2019
Youth Day is celebrated on the last Sunday in June.
July 6-7
Ivan Kupala is the traditional East Slavic holiday, which is celebrated on the night before the Midsummer Day (on June 24 according to the New Style). Nowadays the holiday is also connected with the summer solstice. In the evening girls are saturated themselves with divination to foresee a fiance by casting their wreaths in the water while boys are to catch them. A wreath symbolizes happiness and a marriage. A girl should kiss the boy, who gets her wreath, and pair up with him during this holiday (as a rule, the choice is agreed beforehand). At first boys would jump over a bonfire, showing their dexterity, and after a flame has subsided, they leap in pairs with those girls whose wreaths they got. All of them think it is a point of honor to be cleansed by fire, jumping thrice over the bonfire.
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August 14
Makovey (Honey-Poppy Savior) – Ukrainians celebrate the feast of Maccabeus, which is called the Day of Holy Seven Maccabees, Martyrs, by the Church calendar, according to the New Style. “Spasivka” – the Fast of the Dormition that lasts two weeks – begins from this day. On this day people bless water, flowers and ripe poppy heads in the churches. Also, it is popularly known as the First Savior or Savior on the Water.
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August 23
Ukraine’s National Flag Day is the public holiday in this country, which is devoted to one of its state symbols, namely the Flag of Ukraine.
August 24
Ukraine’s Independence Day – Day of the Restoration of National Independence – is the public holiday in this country, which is celebrated in commemoration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This day is considered to be the date of the establishment of the Ukrainian state in its present form.
September1
The Knowledge Day is a Soviet official holiday declared by the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. on September 1, 1984. Ukraine and some other countries, particularly within the Commonwealth of Independent States, continue to celebrate this holiday that coincides with the start of the new academic year. First graders celebrate the “First Bell Holiday” on this day.
October 14
The Protection of Holy Virgin is the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God or, as people say, the Holy Protection. “The Protecting Veil covers grass with leaves, ground with snow, water with ice, and girls with a bridal crown.” In Ukrainian villages folks still hold to the old popular tradition of performing a wedding after the church feast of St. Mary the Protectress.
October 14
The Day of Ukrainian Cossacks and Defender of Ukraine – The feast of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin has been celebrated as the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks and Defender of Ukraine in this country since 1999. It is traditionally believed that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, was raised on the feast of the Intercession of the Theotokos in 1942, therefore October 14 is also celebrated as the UPA day.
November 17
International Students’ Day is the annual international holiday of student activity.
December 6
The Day of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is a holiday established by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, in 1993. It is not a day off. This holiday is annually celebrated in commemoration of the adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On the Armed Forces of Ukraine” by the Verkhovna Rada in 1991.
December 25
Christmas is the biggest festival in the Catholic world. It falls on the longest night of the year when, after the Catholic beliefs, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.
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