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Some newcomer Ukrainians are changing Christmas traditions to reject Russia

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For Lilia Tasnik, the past year was full of big changes.

This time in 2022, Tasnik was listening to singers singing outside his home in Kyiv as his family gathered around the dining table, laughing, eating and exchanging gifts.

For Tasniks, this was Christmas, which the Russian and Ukrainian branches of the Orthodox Church celebrate on January 7th.

But this year, with the resumption of the holidays, “it’s a little different,” says Tashnick—and not just because it’s his first Christmas in Canada.

Tashnik is one of many Ukrainians who have chosen to celebrate the holiday on December 25, according to Western tradition, rather than early January.

His decision comes at a time when the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has allowed its clergy to hold religious ceremonies on this date in response to growing demands from the Ukrainian people to reject any association with Russia.

“It feels good,” said Technic, who arrived in Ottawa in November with her 18-month-old son, mom, and cat. Her husband is still in Ukraine fighting for their people.

Tasnik said it was “appropriate” to celebrate the holiday on December 25. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

long time coming

Father Taras Kinash, who will hold his first Christmas celebrations at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday, explained that the December 25th celebration actually has its roots in Ukrainian history.

Before the 1930s, Kinch said, Christmas was celebrated in Ukraine on this date, but this changed due to pressure from the Soviet Union in the years leading up to World War II.

Subject change dates [back to Dec. 25] It came out over 10 years ago, but the war was, like, a capitalization for that,” he said. “People wanted their own Christmas. »

Like him, he said, some Ukrainian newcomers would still celebrate Christmas on Saturdays in the cathedral for the sake of tradition.

There will be gastronomic competitions Kotyasweet raspberry pudding, and Ozfar A traditional Ukrainian drink made from dried fruits and berries.

But it is not clear if those festivities will continue beyond this year.

“It’s a Christmas filled with loss, tears, pain and divided families,” Kinch said, adding that her father and brother are still in war zones.

“This Christmas is as unique as ever. I hope this will not be the case anymore.”

Kinach will hold Christmas celebrations at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday for the first time. It may also be his last on this date. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

We want to find our own way

Lilia Terenyak, a native of Kharkiv who came to Ottawa earlier this year with her four children and husband, said she would compete but not celebrate Orthodox Christmas.

“We want to be part of this community, so we have to be together,” she said. “But we want to find our own way.”

A woman in a long half-up braid smiles at the camera
Tyrenek also says that he will not celebrate Orthodox Christmas. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

Anastasia Lazarchuk also talked with her family at home on the phone about whether it was worth celebrating the January holidays, as they had done all their lives before the war.

She said the answer is no.

Instead, her mother made 12 dishes, invited her neighbors, and they all celebrated December 25th.

It is the duty of every Ukrainian[…]To protect our traditions and to protect our language and culture. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Lazarchuk, who fled to Ottawa with her boyfriend after the war broke out. . .

We are trying to save our identity. »

Ottawa morning7:04A bittersweet Orthodox Christmas for Ukrainian newcomers.

We’re talking to a family that keeps traditions going, while also keeping an eye on what’s going on outside.

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