Want to feel Christmas spirit twice a year? Everything is possible!

Christmas holidays in Poland are over, but do you know that Christmas was still not celebrated in some countries?

Two our volunteers – Hanna from Ukraine and Qristy from Georgia – will tell you how and when Christmas is celebrated in their countries, and share their impressions about this holiday in Poland.

It is a surprise for a lot of people that Christmas in Ukraine and Georgia is happening not in December, but on 7th of January. There is nothing strange in it – as these countries are Orthodox ones, not Catholic, there is a different calendar of holidays.

In Ukraine people also have special dinner before Christmas, so on 6th January there is Christmas Eve. As in Poland, 12 dishes are also tried to be cooked, but not every family does it. Usually the first dish that everybody needs to eat is kutia, which is cooked from wheet, nuts, poppyseeds, dried fruits and honey, and only after that family starts a dinner. This year Hanna had an opportunity to learn about Polish Christmas traditions by spending this holiday in Polish family, so she can say that some traditions are quite different. For example, in Ukraine people do not share opłatek and wish something to each other before the meal, and the tradition of having a free place for a guest is not very typical. In both countries they have similar traditions of singing kolenda (in Ukraine it is called koliadka), in Georgia they have Alilo, but nowadays it’s very big meeting in the streets of Tbilisi, where Georgians are gathering money, food and gifts for poor people. In Georgia people also go to church and meet Christmas there, and mostly it’s celebrated with family and close relatives. Before 12 o’clock Georgians are putting one candle on the window, which symbolizes  letting Christmas in their homes and hearts. Traditional Georgian Christmas tree also looks differently, it is called chichilaki and is reminder of st. Nicolas white beard.

On New Year Georgians’ special guest is Mekvle – the person who enters first in your home, a lot depends on him or her – to have lucky or unlucky year. In addition, there are some good news for those who likes to party a lot: because of other holidays calender, both in Georgia and Ukraine the Old New Year is also celebrated on 14th of January. So, want to feel New Year spirit twice a year?

Merry-Christmas

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All Saints Day or commemoration in different countries

A beautiful scene with thousands of candles and flowers made a big impression on me when I saw Polish cemetery for the first time on 1st November – on All Saints Day. For sure in every country and in every culture there are some special time to commemorate people who are gone, but with a lot of similarities each of them has something specific. I will try to tell u what our volunteers from Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia know about how people are celebrating this day in their countries.

I’m from Georgia and in our country 1st November is a religious day,but we don’t call it all saints day as well as we don’t call The day of dead to 2nd November, but the meaning is the same, we go to cemetery and to the church for praying, we don’t have the tradition for those thousands of candles. The biggest commemorative day for dead people in Georgia is the first Monday after Easter, we all are visiting burial places of our relatives with special food for Easter, and after that we are giving that food to poor people.

In Ukraine people comemorate their dead relatives on the first Monday after Easter as well by bringing flowers and special food and drinks to the cemeteries. Candles are also usual to bring (only one per grave), but they are very different from those people use in Poland. As this day is not free from work, a part of people commemorate the relatives not on Monday but on Sunday before. On 1st and 2nd November there is no commemoration at all.

In Turkey everything is different for sure, it’s a Muslim country, so religious days are of course not the same, but still we can find some common. In Turkey they have two main celebrations: Ramazan Bayram (feast of breaking the feast) and Kurban Bayram (feast of sacrifice). Before those days they go to cemetery to pray, but without candles and also flowers aren’t so common.

Also in Spain and Portugal 1st November is the day of prayer for souls, people have still maintained the tradition of returning to their towns and villages to put the flowers on the grave, but in nowadays Spain it’s not as much popular. In Portugal people are putting the leaves of flowers on the grave and making with them crosses or other shapes. Also one more difference is that 1st November is not a national holiday in these countries (in Portugal starting from last year), so nothing will be closed during that day.

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