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How to Celebrate New Year's Eve with a Ukrainian Woman

Balloons and confetti
The Ukrainian people celebrate New Year’s Eve a little differently from the rest of the world.

New Year’s Day is uniquely celebrated in every single country in the world. Technically speaking, thanks to different time zones, each celebration happens at different times.

And those different time zones can sometimes mean different traditions. The traditions that you might be used to might not be the exact same as the ones that are practiced in Ukraine, a country you might find yourself in because you’re dating a Ukrainian woman.

These customs might seem somewhat alien to you. But these are the things that the Ukrainian people do to ring in the next group of 365 days. These are the things that the woman you’re dating, or trying to date, likely grew up doing. So these are the things that you may have to do before the clock strikes twelve on the 1st of January.

You’re going to want to get somewhat acclimated to them before you touch down in Odessa or whichever city your (potential) girlfriend is from. Besides, the way you call in the new year can be an omen for how the rest of the year will go. Like, maybe you’ll find love and actually keep it.

To put it simply, the way that you spend the first few hours of your first day can set the tone for the other three hundred and sixty-four (or three hundred and sixty-five if it’s a leap year) and you’re going to want to set a good precedent if you plan on marrying a Ukrainian woman.

Here are some of the ways to set the year off right the Ukrainian way:


So the first thing you need to know about the New Year in Ukraine is that it might not fall on the 31st of December but rather the 13th of January. This is because the 13th of January is when New Year’s Eve would have fallen had it not been for the transition from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar and some more traditional Ukrainians still observe it as a sort of folk holiday.

Sparklers being lit.
Ukrainian culture lights up the day before a New Year.

The Ukrainian feast for the New Year is called Malanka. Take note that in celebrating the Malanka, the amount of food is going to be important. Not just when it comes to the portion sizes, but also when it comes to the variety of food. It’s believed that the greater variety of food there is on the table, the more generous the coming year will be to those who partake in the feast.

There’s also some caroling during Malanka. Teenage girls carol around their neighborhoods and young men wear masks and walk around their neighborhoods and wish others well and entertain people with dances, songs, or skits.

People who perform indoors dress up in costumes, so if you’re in Ukraine and you see a group of zombies ambling down the street during this date, it’s probably best not to panic.

After that, the Old New Year is celebrated. It’s sometimes referred to as the Orthodox New Year, though the liturgical calendar for the Orthodox church starts in September.

Common foods

Your New Year’s Eve celebrations probably have finger foods, since food isn’t really the main focus of the parties you’ve been to. Rather, the focus when it comes to consumables has been on bubbly champagne.

But, as previously mentioned, a variety of food supposedly portends a bountiful year in Ukrainian culture. So a Ukrainian spread is going to be a bit more varied than some champagne and a charcuterie board. You’ll probably find a few fish and pork dishes spread out on a table.

You’ll probably want to try the pierogi and the potato pancakes. Something else that you’ll want to try are the pampushki, which are potato balls filled with meat before being fried, which sounds pretty delicious.

There’s also going to be a wide variety of cakes to finish your meal off with or to satiate any person’s sweet tooth.

Basically, your stomach is going to put in a lot of work if you find yourself in Ukraine when they start celebrating their New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Talk like a man

There’s an old belief in Ukraine that domesticated animals are able to speak in human language during New Year’s Day. Thus far, no proof of that has been documented outside of parrots.

People toasting champagne flutes.
Toast to a fresh start where you may find love.

Asking for forgiveness

Another tradition that some people participate in during the New Year is going around their neighborhood and asking their neighbors for forgiveness for any slights that may have occurred during the previous year. Given that a year has five-hundred twenty-five thousand and six-hundred minutes, there’s probably more than a little bit of blame to go around.

Man of the house

In olden times, men used to strew the homes of relatives and friends with grains, bread, and corn. The belief was that if a man did this, then it would ensure a bountiful harvest. Nowadays, it’s not men who go around doing this because ensuring bountiful harvests aren’t as important as they used to be, though it may have been important back in the days when Ukraine was the breadbasket of the Soviet Union and produced a good amount of its wheat.

In modern times, it’s mostly little boys who go to the homes of their relatives and strew them with the appropriate things like grains, bread, and corn.

The grains used in this ritual traditionally were not thrown away since they’re supposed to portend a pretty bountiful harvest. So many families in olden times and a few agrarian families in modern times use the grains in their agricultural pursuits.

New Year’s Eve is mostly a symbolic holiday. By itself, the 31st of December isn’t all that special. Christmas, the big holiday around which the season is centered, has come and gone. The fresh slate that everyone is looking forward to, the 1st of January, is still on its way.

But while the day of December 31st isn’t much to write home about, all over the world, the night of it is something people celebrate. Not because they care about the 31st of December, but because they’re all counting down to midnight.