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Old New Year in Ukraine

The Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year is an informal traditional holiday in Ukraine and other Slavic countries, celebrated as the start of the New Year by the Julian calendar. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the Old New Year falls on January 14 in the Gregorian calendar. The tradition of celebrating the coming of the New Year twice is widely enjoyed in Ukraine: January 1 (New New Year) and January 14 (Old New Year).

The Orthodox New Year is an observance and not an official public holiday in Ukraine.

Usually not as festive as the New New Year, for many this is a nostalgic family holiday ending the New Year holiday cycle (which includes Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7). Folk traditions, like the singing of carols and the telling of fortunes, are usually observed during Old New Year, and a large meal might be served. The beauty of traditions and rituals is alive more in villages, and the Western Ukraine takes the lead in celebrating this day with rites.

Scientists estimate that starting from 2100 Old New year will be celebrated on the January 15 because the difference between the calendars will increase by one day.

Ukrainians love to celebrate Old New Year even nowadays. In some families, the celebration of the Old New Year occurs even more magnificent, because until January 7, believers are fasting, and hence can not celebrate the New Year as they would wish. Solemn worship is celebrated in churches dedicated to the end of the old year to thank God for the graces already received and ask for the new ones for next year. The Old New Year celebrations have the religious overtones, as the Christmas yuletide still continue on January 14.

In many regions of Ukraine it is a rule on the night of January 14 to “sow” wheat in the houses of relatives and friends. This tradition symbolizes the wish for a generous harvest and prosperity in the family. It is called “Posivannya”. Children love this ritual. Usually they gather together and walk through the huts with a bag of grain oats, buckwheat, rye, and other breads while singing Christmas carols in exchange for candies, chocolates and money. According to tradition, it is lucky for the first person to enter each room in a house to be a man or a boy. 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! 🙂

Feast of Malankaphoto by

Also, the celebrations of the Feast of Malanka begin on January 13. Malanka commemorates the feast day of Saint Melania the Younger. Malanka is a sort of performance, Ukrainian style, it is a festival of folk humour and spontaneous jesting. It is mostly a rural feast, not very often you can observe it in the cities. The central character in the celebrations is Malanka, “a girl of many talents and of exceptional beauty.” On this night in Ukraine, carolers traditionally went from house to house playing pranks or acting out a small play (similar to Vertep), with a bachelor dressed in women’s clothing leading the troop. People gather in groups, dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothing and holding props such as the star and go door to door to their neighbours, nearest friends and family. This is called a Koliada, which starts on 6 January, Christmas Eve (Sviaty Vechir) and ends on 19 January. At midnight, once everyone cheers for the New Year, individual and pair polka dancing is stopped and the kolomyjka begins. When the kolomyjka is finished, everyone resumes to their previous dancing and continue to party the night away. Malanka caps off the festivities of the Christmas holidays, and is often the last opportunity to go wild and have fun, before the 40-days long Lent which precedes Easter. Read more about Malanka holiday here.

Traditionally, on the night of January 13th to 14th, girls were gathering together to read fortunes and to find out when they will get married and who will be their husband. This tradition preserved to nowadays.

For example, how to find out the name of the future husband? It is very easy! You simply need to go out and ask the name of the first man you meet. This would be the name of the future husband. 🙂

Fortune telling on kings: on January 13th, before going to bed, put playing cards with kings under the pillow. In the morning, without looking, pull out one card. If it is a king of spades, the future husband will be old and jealous, , the king of clubs means he will serve in military, the king of hearts – young and rich, and the king of diamonds – desirable. 🙂

Fortune telling on the ring: girls roll the ring on the floor taking turns. If the ring rolls towards the door, this girl will get married soon.

Fortune telling in Ukrainephoto by

A lot of people like Old New Year even more than the New Year itself, as it does not have the usual hustle and bustle of the 31st of December – 1st of January holiday.

Happy “Old New Year”! May all your dreams come true this year!

In Ukrainian:

Старий Новий рік завершує низку новорічних свят, які найбільш активно відзначаються на пострадянському просторі. 14 січня прийнято відзначати Новий рік за старим стилем, який відображає 13-денну розбіжність між юліанським і григоріанським календарями.

Вчені підрахували, що з 2100 його почнуть відзначати вже 15 січня, оскільки різниця між календарями збільшиться на один день.

У наш час це свято так само люблять, як і Новий рік, який відзначається в ніч з 31 грудня на 1 січня. У деяких сім’ях святкування старого Нового року відбувається навіть більш пишно, оскільки до 7 січня віруючі люди дотримуються посту, а значить, не можуть погуляти від душі на Новий рік.

Сьогодні святкування старого Нового року не обходиться і без релігійного підтексту, оскільки 14 січня ще тривають Різдвяні Святки.

У багатьох регіонах України в ніч на 14 січня прийнято засівати будинки рідних і близьких пшеницею. Ця традиція символізує побажання щедрого врожаю і достатку в родині. А багатьом людям старий Новий рік навіть більше до душі, ніж Новий рік, оскільки він не несе звичної суєти і шуму, властивих 1 січня.