New Year 2013 celebration in Kiev. Maydan Nezalezhnosti.
Road police in Kiev on Women's Day
Epiphany swimming on Obolon, Kiev.
Coming to Ukraine? Surprised why naked people are enthusiastically jumping into the ice-holes or road police is hunting women drivers to present them a bouquet of tulips? Numerous questions from our clients coming from around the world prompted me to write this short description of Ukraine's most popular public and family holidays. And you can be sure, all of the information below is also true for Russia and Belorussia.
The biggest and the most popular celebration in Ukraine certainly is New Year. Homes are being decorated with New Year trees wich can be purchased right on the street fairs. People do not sleep until late night, watching TV shows or attending New Year parties with their friends. Children expect receiving gifts, as well as their parents. New Year is official celebration and starting from the 1st of January ukrainians have one week off.
During the 70 years of communist regime Christmas was not officially celebrated and even considered to be a reprehensible in Ukraine. They tried to substitute Christmas with the New Year feast. However, people did not forget Christmas and at present time it is growing in popularity and becoming true family holiday. To be said, Ukraine has mostly Orthodox christian church, so Christmas is celebrated on the 6th of January. Catholic or western Christmas is celebrated predominantly on western parts of Ukraine.
Another date ukrainians love to celebrate is Epiphany (19th of January) Orthodox believers and atheists are plunging into a blessed ice-hole prepared for this day on rivers and lakes in every village or town. Participants must dive tree times in honor of Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan. People believe this procedure protects from illnesses and other misfortune during the whole year.
On the February 14th we celebrate Valentine's day along with other countries of Europe. This is not official date and came to Ukraine not a long time ago.
8th of March, or the International Women's Day is official holiday with days off. It considered to be a celebration of the spring, people really love it and do not pay attention to political background of this date. On the 8th of May every man should congratulate his woman or mother or daughter and present them a gift. Only on this day strict and meticulous road police does not punish women drivers for minor rules violations and present them a flower bouquet instead of administrative protocol.
In Ukraine Easter has the name Velykden (The Major Day) and is the most important Orthodox holiday. It has many rich folk traditions either in cities and villages. Ukrainian Easter is a historical combination of pagan, slavic and Christian traditions.
May Holidays are held from the 1st of May until the 9-10th of May. The First of May is international Labor Day, a legacy of grim Soviet past when pompous celebrations and parades were carried out, and so strongly took root in people's conscience that we still have several official days off on the beginning of May. 9th of May, the Victory Day, when the Second World War ended (for Ukraine it is Great Patriotic War) is official holiday as well. Sometimes military parades marched through Khreshchatyk street in Kiev. In general, May holidays is official but not the family celebration. People usually spend these days on dachas (small countryside homes with little plots of earth) or traveling. This period is high-season for Kiev hotels since a lot of tourists are coming to Kiev. Anyway, we do not reise rates for apartments but ask guests to make their reservations beforehand.
Being in Kiev at the end of May, specifically during the last May weekend you can encounter the Kiev feast. This is one of the beloved celebrations by Kiev inhabitants dedicated to our city. A lot of street concerts, shows, exhibitions, competitions and carnivals are happening these days. The center of celebration is Andriyivskyy Uzviz - the very heart of cultural city life.
24th of August - Independence Day, the main holiday in Ukraine, a lot of official actions are being held and amazing firework in evening. This is beautiful show indeed. However, Independence Day is mostly official date and not family or personal celebration yet. People usually use this day off to flee the city.
Besides above mentioned there are a lot of smaller holidays, for example the1st of September - Knowledge day or the 1st of April - Fools' Day when everybody is obliged to joke over somebody.