Winter holidays in Ukraine are mostly associated with the New Year celebrations and there are many traditions without which we, Ukrainians, do not imagine these festive days. So, here is the list of what our people usually do during winter holidays, which we have made after asking our wonderful ladies about family traditions they can share.

  1. Our family tradition is the following: on the last Saturday before the New year father goes to get the New Year tree, while the rest of the family are unpacking the decorations, which have been waiting for the grand holiday all year long.
  2. When everyone gathers around the table, we tell compliments to each other. The most original one gets a prize. Usually something sweet and tasty.
  3. Our family tradition is the following: all of us cook traditional Olivier salad and dressed herring salad without which we do not imagine the New Year table.
  4. Our family buy a new bauble every year. The oldest one was bought by my grandfather after he had got married with grandmother and it is already over 55 years old.
  5. One of my favourite family traditions is to make «vareniki» for the New Year celebration. We have been doing it for three generations, and when someone starts grumbling that we can buy them in any shop, granny says that home-made vareniki have their own soul, which bought ones don’t have.
  6. Our family have a very good tradition: we write different predictions on small pieces of paper like «you will get a bargain» or «you will learn something surprising about one of your friends», then we fold them, put into a box and mix. After that each picks up one prediction, reads it and writes his name on the piece of paper. Then all predictions are put back into the magic box and when we all meet next year we check if they come true. And do you know what? They mostly do.
  7. Though strange it may seem, our family tradition is to organise an annual Soviet movie festival. We get together and watch the most popular New Year films of Soviet times like «The Irony of Fate, or I Hope You Enjoyed Your Bath», «The Sorcerers», «The Carnival Night» and many other. Without these films no New Year celebration is a real celebration.
  8. Our family do not buy a real New Year tree, we get an artificial one. It is very big and our father usually puts it. The first bauble is hung by the youngest person in our family – my nephew. Then dad holds him up and he places a big star on top of the tree.
  9. When the clock strikes twelve, we burn a piece of paper with a wish written on it. Then we throw the ashes into the glass, pour champagne and drink. Can we just drink champagne like other «normal» people? Yes, but then we will lose our own family tradition.  
  10. In the era of communication technologies our family tradition seems very strange and unusual, but we still send the New Year postcards to our friends and relatives. Everyone asks why we do this, if we have Internet and mobile phones. But the feeling of a «live», real postcard is much more different from what you feel looking at an Internet card. You take it out of your mail box, read handwritten wishes and it seems that cold winter evening is becoming warmer.

There are many more New Year family traditions, but summarising all the information we have managed to get, every celebration includes Olivier salad, tangerines and watching «The Irony of Fate, or I Hope You Enjoyed Your Bath». And finally, when the New Year tree is placed where it has to be and decorated, all the family stand around it and say the magic words «One, two, three, light the New Year tree» and, magically, it lights, which means that we are ready to celebrate the New Year.

Written by Valeria, with love)