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Ukrainians celebrated Old New Year with traditions, rituals and rites

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainians all over the world celebrated their New Year on the night of January 13-14 - the Old New Year.

Ukrainians celebrated Old New Year with traditions, rituals and rites

KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainians all over the world celebrated their New Year on the night of January 13-14 – the Old New Year. January 14 is popular in Ukrainian culture for meeting and greeting relatives and friends, and visiting the graves of dead members of the family and, of course, visiting churches. The tradition to celebrate Old New Year is associated with the divergence of two calendars: the Julian calendar “old style” and Gregorian – calendar “new style.” This difference in the XX-XXI centuries is 13 days since the New Year, Old Style, is celebrated on the night of January 13 to 14. The beauty of traditions and rituals is still alive in villages, and the Western Ukraine takes the lead in celebrating this day with rites.

January 14 (January 1, Old Style) Christian Church commemorates St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea Kappodakiyskoyi. In ancient times, this day was called Vasyliva day and was crucial for the whole year. The eve (now January 13) is called Vasylivym evening.

Basil evening is popular for eating the best and most delicious food that is prepared at home: pies, sausage, meat, pancakes, and drinking beer, wine, and vodka. Mandatory for the New Year’s table are Kutia, pig, or any dish with pork, because St. Basil is considered the patron saint of pigs. There is a belief that if the night before Basil’s day desk is filled with a lot of pork, these animals will multiply in abundance and offer their owners a good profit.

The Old New Year table is served with dishes made with rabbit and rooster to be nimble as a rabbit and rooster – to be light as a bird. Another obligatory festive meal on Vasily day is porridge. Cooking is accompanied by special rituals.

On New Year’s Eve, the oldest of the women brings pantry cereal (usually buckwheat), and the oldest man brings water from a well or river.

Then they all sit at the table, and the oldest of the women begins to stir the porridge in the pot, saying some ritual words. Then they all get up from the table, and the porridge is put into the oven with a bow. Cooked porridge fetches from the oven and is carefully considered. If the pot is full of nourishing porridge and crumbly, then you can expect a happy year and a rich harvest, and the next morning the porridge is eaten. If you get a cracked pot, it does not promise anything good to the household, and this mess should not be eaten, but instead thrown into the hole for a chance to change destiny.

The rites of the first day of the New Year is aimed at the welfare both in specific areas of peasant activity and throughout the economy as a whole. Rite posivannya, which is held on the morning of Vasily day is done to get a good harvest in the coming year. This ancient ritual is also known by other names: Avsenev, ovsen, Useni. The essence of it is that that the children gather together before dinner, are walked through the huts with a sleeve or bag of grain oats, buckwheat, rye, and other breads while singing a zasivalnu song.

Children go from door to door and sing Christmas carols in exchange for candies and chocolates. This is very similar to the American Halloween trick-or-treat tradition, though the Ukrainian children do not dress in costumes for Old New Year’s.

On the morning of Old New Year’s Day, January 14, men and boys go around knocking on everyone’s doors. According to tradition, it is lucky for the first person to enter each room in a house to be a man or a boy. Once the man or boy has entered the room, he throws buckwheat or grain onto the floor and recites a rhyme wishing good luck and happiness for the upcoming year. Then as thanks, the men or boys are presented with small gifts such as candies or $1 UAH bills. The last part of this tradition is that you may not clean up the buckwheat grains until the next day, or else you will sweep away your good luck!

Most people in the Ukraine celebrate Christmas on January 7.