The Ukrainians are just fond of celebrating holidays. They strictly observe the traditions of Orthodox and Soviet holidays and readily accept Western holidays like St. Valentine Day, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day and so on. A great number of holidays can be divided into several groups - public, religious and just holidays. Public holidays are marked with red in the calendar for you not to forget to have a good rest. When a holiday falls on a non-work day, Saturday or Sunday, the nearest Friday or Monday is a day-off.
Jan 1 New Year's Day
...is no doubt the main holiday of the year. According to the most recent polls about 90% of the Ukrainians have called it their favorite holiday, everybody impatiently waits for round the year. People decorate the New Year Tree, cook festive dinners, buy presents, go to numerous New Year's parties that are generously held not only at the end of December but also in the first two weeks of January. There is a saying that a person will spend the year the way he has welcomed it, so many do their best to have fun on the New Year's Day. One usually spends this day or, to be more precise, evening and night with his family or friends. The local channels show loved-by-all Soviet films and a few minutes before midnight, the annual festive address of the President to his nation is broadcasted. This bright holiday is loved by people of different ages, but it is especially dear to children. They believe that Ded Moroz, or Santa Claus, comes this night and puts gifts under the tree, of course if they haven't been naughty in the old year.
Jan 7 Orthodox Christmas
...Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, used in Europe and North America. Therefore the Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7, 13 days later than the Catholic world. A very important religious holiday, Christmas wasn't celebrated under the Soviets almost during the whole 20th century and only at the end of 1990s it was resurrected. On January 6th, Christmas Eve, many families gather for Sviata Vecheria (Holy Supper). The twelve-course meal is dedicated to Christ's twelve apostles. The traditional meals included are kutia (home-made bread with honey and red poppies), borsch (beet soup), vushka (dumplings filled with onions and mushrooms), a variety of fish, vareniki (dumplings filled with cabbage, potatoes, or prunes), andholubtsi (stuffed cabbage). In the last few years many forgotten traditions like Kolyadki (masked children going door-to-door to receive candy in exchange for traditional songs and jokes) have being reviving.
Jan 13 Old New Year's Day
...The strangest holiday of the Slavonic calendar. In fact, it is also connected with the conservatism of Slavonic people. After the 1917 Revolution, Russia and Ukraine switched to the western calendar. Before that time they have been 13 days behind the rest of the world. However, even though the official calendar was switched, many people did not want to change and others refused to celebrate New Year before Christmas. The celebrations are not of such an enormous scale as the ones of the New Year's Day and it is not a day off.
Jan 25 Tatiana's Day
...or Students' Day. The holiday originates to the 18th century. In 1775, on the day of Maiden Tatiana the Martyr Empress Elizabeth Petrovna signed the regulation about the foundation of Moscow University, which went down into history as the first Russian University. In the 18th and 19th centuries this day was celebrated as the Day of Foundation of Moscow University, but already in the second half of the 19th century it became a holiday of all the Universities and students. Today, Tatiana's Day is a kind and cheerful holiday, when students enjoy the freedom, youth and coming vacations. Those who have been students decades ago remember their old good days at universities.
Feb 14 St. Valentine's Day
... When the so-called Iron Curtain fell down, people of the Former Soviet Union saw that there are a lot of nice European and American holidays and have eagerly adopted some of them. There is no point in describing Ukrainian St. Valentine's Day as there is practically no difference from the Western holiday of the same name.
Feb 23 Former Red Army Day
...Men's Day In Soviet times it was the holiday of all those who had ever served in the military. While the Soviet Union was rather a military state, about 90% of men were at some point connected to the Red Army, so later it became a holiday for men. It is not a public holiday in Ukraine, but most women make some presents to their male relatives and friends and do their best to please their husbands and boyfriends.