Old New Year in Ukraine

In Ukraine people are very hospitable and like organizing as well as celebrating different holidays. Winter probably is the “richest” season of numerous long-awaited holidays. If you are lucky to visit Ukrainian family on holidays, you will be impressed.
One of my female friend shared a story about her American boyfriend coming to her place to have dinner with her parents. He was really impressed by hospitality despite a language barrier, he felt very welcoming and had the best treatment. It is in our culture to treat people with all our heart and soul. Our doors are always open to welcome guests. His feedback: “ When I was planning to visit Elena`s parents, I didn’t expect to have such a festivity. Her mum cooked so many delicious dishes.

I asked her how she managed to cook all of that, she might have spent a week to prepare all those dishes. It was flattering to hear, but she said it was pretty normal in their family. As I was their guest, to be on the safe side her mum prepared both vegetarian and meat dishes in case I don`t eat either of them. It was very sweet of her. They are very open people, I didn’t understand what they were telling me, but my fiancée translated, so there was no confusion at all. We were laughing as if we had known each other for ages, sharing childhood memories and stories from life. They have a big vineyard, I was quite impressed at how they managed to keep it trimmed and neat. It covered a huge territory and we were touring around it, I was trying different types of grapes. It was definitely a holiday to remember. I am planning to visit them with my fiancée on winter holidays. I have heard a lot about wonderful traditions and I am looking forward to it”.

So here is another occasion in Ukraine for families and friends to get together – celebration with a contradictory name Old New Year or Lavish Evening. (according to an old calendar).

What is special about a holiday?

Secular and orthodox traditions are combined in one celebration, here are some points that make Ukrainian Old New Year a special holiday.

Do you believe in superstitions? Old New Year in Ukraine is a great time to get away with it. One of them is connected with an important dish of the table – varenyky with filling (surprise). If you get one with thread – New Year will bring you a trip, one with sugar – next year will be sweet and good, varenyk with button forecast you new things,a ring is for upcoming marriage and salt is for tears.

Fortune telling is a must if you are ready to know what waits for you! Of course, it is the most popular among unmarried women who desire to know something about their future promised husband. When I was about 17 we were doing fortune telling with girls in different ways. I have no idea where this idea came to our minds but we kept this tradition for many years. It was a lot of fun.

Also it is believed that you can find out your future fiancé`s name by putting different male names and in the morning you have to pick up one piece of paper and that will be your future husband. Believe it or not, but my female friend chose exactly her husband`s name. Also you may put a comb under the pillow and say: “My future husband, please come to my dream and comb my hair”.

You can also do the fortune telling by involving your pet at home. You should make a wish, then you should call your pet and observe him which paw he is going to step in into the house. If it is a left paw, your wish is going to come true, if it is the right paw – forget about it.

According to old superstitions, you must not meet this holiday in old clothes. So you have to keep a new outfit for this occasion. It is not recommended to lend or borrow money on this day.

Carol singing is a chance for children and youngsters to get some candies and may be even pocket money. They go from the door to door saying: “Lavish evening, good evening, may good people have good health” or other shchedrivky. Though the tradition is more widespread in villages and it would be quite a surprise to see it in the city nowadays. The symbol of procession is a star, because many years ago this holiday symbolized the change from winter to summer, from night to day. In my childhood, my grandfather made a star by himself and wrote a poetry, which we learnt as kids and were going to houses to sing. We were excited by this activity, it united us a team and we got a good reward for that. We used to have a big bag and by the end of the evening it was full of sweets and cookies. We were coming to my house at the end, it was the point of sharing “the treasures”.

On the 14th of January in the morning boys and men should go to house of their relatives or friends and “sow” the floors with grains of wheat and other seeds. Such rite is very ancient and originates from pre-Christian times when grains symbolized abundant harvest.

If a man is the first man who enters the door that day – it is a good sign too. And if not all people follow the tradition of sowing these days, more people would pay attention to this superstition for sure.

As you know, it is common in Ukraine to celebrate holidays with a TV on the background, giving a look on old movies from time to time. Old New Year is not an exception, traditional movies, which people already know by heart, are on the TV again: “Irony of Fate”, “Carnival Night”, “Moscow do not believe the tears”. Haven’t seen it yet?

Yes, Old New Year is an old holiday that survived thousands of years and has many traditions. So now you won’t be surprised when a bunch of kids will come to sing carols or when your Ukrainian lady will smile you even more after this holiday, maybe she saw your face while fortune telling;)