Ukrainian government must work to lift up its image - Ukraininan Diaspora Of Greece
Christmas and New Year are special holidays for everyone around the world. About winter celebrations and the results of 2015 we decided to ask Elena Getseva, the founder of United Ukrainian Diaspora Of Greece
Given a sufficient number of migrants from Ukraine in Greece, in which way Ukrainian traditions are supported?
- In fact, a large number of workers left the country, who returned home and who went on. Ukrainian traditions are primarily supported by migrant’s families. Holidays are held in Ukrainian schools. Foundation of Ukrainians in Greece usually does dens.
Is there any interest among the Greeks to internal events in Ukraine, Ukrainian traditions, culture?
- Of course the interest in events in Ukraine went away for very acute issue of migrants, economic situation in the country, events in Syria. They also closely monitor the developments of events in Turkey-Russia conflict. But Greeks are exactly that nation that is interested in history of other nations, there are so many things that they know better, but unfortunately so many years are needed to cover whole the history. The will is needed and the support that we unfortunately don’t feel neither from the government, that has to understand and know real situation in pro-Russian countries and assist projects to lift up the image, but even Ukrainians in Ukraine make a big mistake considering that Ukrainians abroad don’t need their help and that they have more important problems. Image of the country abroad is also a war but in another shape and this is our common war. War for Ukraine. Believe me that everything has been done solely on a voluntary initiatives from investing own funds and own time, that one has to dedicate after the main work, family affairs and duties, actually taking time away from the family. So of course we need the support of government as well as from ordinary citizens.
Tell us how you celebrated Christmas and New Year? Are there any joint Ukraine-Greek traditions of celebration? Are there some special places where celebrations are conducted?
The most striking, colorful, and especially family holidays for Greeks are Christmas and New Year. The whole country is decorated with garlands and illumination of streets, trees, tall buildings in the central squares, loud megaphones with Christmas music and of course the traditional Christmas sweets kurabye, melomakarona, diples, original houses that decorate every holiday table is a favorite gift for all. Each house is bright, colorful, not like the others. But the Greeks have another unusual tradition adopted under the Christmas tree not only dress up, but the boat under sail. This is not only because life is directly related to the sea, but also because boat is a symbol of happiness. January 1, St. Basil Day in Greece and Agios Vasyleos brings gifts to children, and there is Vasilopyta (St. Basil Bread) on every festive table which is cut right after 12 o’clock, first for Christ and St. Basil immediately followed by large piece for the poor (which of course then carry to the church) after that to all invited that are not part of the family and only after that every family member gets a piece of Vasilopyta. They put a coin to Vasilopyta, the one who gets the piece with the coin as usual gets a gift from the family that held a celebration (money, the amount is stated before Vasilopyta cutting). Maybe the same as us orthodox, we need to get rid of characters created by communists. Only carols can be called a common tradition. Greeks also go from house to house with Christmas and New Year carols.
Saint Basil Bread
Melomakarona and kourabiedes - Greek Christmas deserts
How does your organization participate in celebration of Ukrainian Christmas holidays? What features of the celebration of Christmas and New Year are in Greece?
Since we are a new organization which is only 1 years old. But this year we organized the first Ukrainian New Year's Eve in Greece. There were so many Greeks that took part into celebrations and danced a lot.
I can confidently say that they liked very much since starting from November we have been receiving a large number of calls and private messages with questions about the Ukrainian New Year's Eve 2016, and taking into consideration that there was a formal notification that this year we can’t be an organizer. It’s unknown whether other organization will take the organization but I hardly believe since the holiday is needed now. During holidays you strongly feel the desire to communicate with compatriots especially not many would like to be at the same company with Russian in pro Russian bars. Happy New Year to all readers, we have a hope that New Year will bring peace to all homes and everyone who is not with us will come back home, and with them, a smile and a happiness in every house.
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