Christmas celebration on December 24-25, and New Year on December 31-1,(Gregorian calendar), are well-known dates to the majority of the population, however, per the Julian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on January 6-7, some call it Orthodox Christmas, and the New Year is celebrated on January 13-14. Ukrainians call this New Year “Malanka”, the day of St. Melania, or “Generous Eve” (Shchedryi Vechir).
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our family and friends who are celebrating Christmas Eve on January 6th, per Julian’s calendar.
Saint Nicholas, was the “gift giver” I was familiar with during my childhood. He had a white beard, was dressed in bishop’s garbs, carried a crozier, and arrived on a white horse. On December 6th, he was visiting well-behaved children, and placing candy and cookies under their pillows. If you were really good, then he would drop off more goodies on Christmas Eve. You also were expected to know your Catechism, in case he decided to quiz you, before leaving you a gift. We recited prayers and songs dedicated to St. Nicholas, instead of leaving him milk and cookies.
While most children are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the big, jolly fellow in a red suit, who sneaks into their houses through the chimney with presents for everyone, or at least this is how the legend has it, Ukrainian children get their small gifts on December 6th, from Saint Nicholas.
On January 6th, a Christmas Eve is observed by many Ukrainians, Greeks, Orthodox Christians, and others, who follow the Julian calendar.