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Cultural diplomacy in a festive mood: celebrations Ukrainian style | #FormulaOfAction

Charlottenburg palace illuminated in colors of the Ukrainian flag
Cultural diplomacy in a festive mood: celebrations Ukrainian style | #FormulaOfAction
Edited by: Alya Shandra
#FormulaOfAction is a project to share the experience of conducting successful actions and campaigns among Ukrainian activists. We search for the secrets that make Ukrainian activism have impact. If you have a story to share, please tell us about it! For more info see here
New Year and Christmas holidays are not only a time to celebrate, but also a chance to popularize Ukrainian culture all over the world. In the recent days, a number of Christmas festivals and markets where Ukrainian culture was brightly represented were taking place in different countries.

For Ukrainians who live abroad, the time of Christmas festivals gives a chance to feel a bit like back at home; for locals it gives an opportunity to learn about Ukrainian traditions of celebration, national music and cuisine. Such events help to build a positive image of Ukraine in other countries.

This year Ukraine was widely represented at Christmas markets all over the world, and Ukrainian diasporas organized a number of festivals. The desire to help their motherland united Ukrainian activists all over the world. This is not surprising, because the situation in Ukraine was one of the most discussed topics of world politics last year. To show their solidarity with Ukraine, local citizens also supported the cultural events, especially taking into account that most of them are charity. Very often organizers of these events pass collected money for help of ATO needs, treatment of wounded Ukrainian soldiers, or to support IDPs or locals who suffered from warfare in the East of Ukraine.

Ukrainian diaspora organizes traditional celebrations

Members of Ukrainian diasporas do not forget Ukrainian traditions and regularly organize national-style events. This year, the most popular national holiday during the winter holiday period turned out to be St. Nicholas Day. A number of celebrations for children were dedicated to this day.

A Ukrainian school in Vancouver, Canada organized a celebration for pupils with vertep (traditional Christmas performance), carols, gifts from St. Nicholas, and an exhibition of pupils’ works. St. Nicholas also came to children in Voorburg, Netherlands. It was Oleksandr Horin, Ukrainian ambassador to Netherlands, who congratulated children and gave them presents.

F:\Friends of Ukraine Network\Different\Culture diplomacy\Свято-Миколая-в-Українській-школі-12-грудня2015-р.-1024x685.jpg
Ukrainian school in Vancouver celebrates St. Nicholas Day
The Ukrainian Ambassador – playing the role of St. Nicholas in Netherlands

Ukrainians in the United Arab Emirates organized a fairy-tale performance for children dedicated to St. Nicholas Day. The aim of the event was not only to entertain children, but also to collect money for needs of children with cancer in Ukraine. Watch the video here.

Children and adults from Ukrainian community in Guadalajara, Mexico, celebrated St. Nicholas Day with a lecture for children about who was St. Nicholas, as well as with different games for children. Watch the video here.

The Ukrainian diaspora in Rome, Italy organized St. Nicholas Day celebrations for adults. Italians got a possibility to learn about Ukrainian culture, history, music, and also about the current situation in Ukraine. It was a charity event, all the money was collected for needs of children under the care of Caritas-Kyiv. The Ukrainian community in Poland also decided to greet not only children. Famous Ukrainian storyteller Sashko Lirnyk came to Warsaw in the role of St. Nicholas for a meeting with Ukrainian youth and Warsaw students.
St. Nicholas Day in Rome

The theater “Bursaky” from Zhytomyr, Ukraine, organized a performance and concert in Stuttgart, Germany, together with organization of Ukrainians in Stuttgart. It was a part of Ukrainian-German youth project “Integration and peace through theater”. Watch the video here.

Diasporas in several countries have organized Christmas markets in Ukrainian style, which were popular not only among Ukrainians: lots of locals also visited them. The Ukrainian community in Antwerp, Belgium has organized Christmas market that united representatives of several organizations such as Promote Ukraine, Bridge EU-Ukraine, Plast Belgium, Ukrainian representatives to NATO Mission. Goods from Ukrainian producers, Ukrainian art and cuisine were presented at the market. Ukrainians in California, USA have organized “Koliadka party”: Hutsul musicians from Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine sung traditional Christmas Carols.
Ukraine represented at the Christmas market in Belgium
Carolers from West Ukraine in the USA

Ukraine is presented at Christmas festivals

For the first time Ukraine was presented at the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany. The market was held under the slogan “Kyiv congratulates Berlin”. The Сharlottenburg Palace that is near the square where the market is held was lighten up in blue and yellow – the colours of Ukrainian flag. Goods by Ukrainian artisans, especially ornaments for Christmas trees are very popular among local visitors.

«Різдвяний ярмарок перед замком Шарлоттенбурґ» у жовто-блакитних кольорах
The Charlottenburg palace was illuminated in blue and yellow. Photo: Natalia Pysanska

The international Fair of Cultures in Madrid, Spain gathered representatives of over forty countries. Ukraine was among them. Ukrainian activists, organizations, schools united their efforts to present their native country as brightly and positively as possible, and were featured in the newspaper ElMundo. You can see more photos at the site of the Ukrainian community in Spain

Ukrainian embroidery at International Fair of Cultures in Madrid, Spain

Ukraine was also presented at a Christmas market in Istanbul, Türkiye. Ukrainian goods and dishes were traditionally presented at the event. Moreover, this year Ukrainian Consul General in Istanbul Vasyl Bodnar visited the market together with his wife. 10% of costs collected at the event were passed to the International Women’s Foundation of Istanbul, part of them was donated for needs of children who are on treatment in Istanbul now.
Ukrainian cuisine at the Christmas market in Istanbul

Nearly forty diplomatic missions and women’s organizations participated in the annual charity fair in Amman, Jordan. Ukraine was among them and the country’s exhibition attracted the interest of Prince Raad bin Zeid and his wife, who are patrons of the event. Goods by famous Ukrainian brands together with national dishes were presented for exhibition by the International human rights congress “Shield”. The main aim if the fair is charity, so all collected costs were passed for children in need in Jordan.

One more country where Ukraine was presented at the Christmas market for the first time was Japan. The Christmas exhibition opened in Yokohama. Several workshops and a concert by children from Ukrainian school were held during the market. The exhibition is prepared by Ukrainians Community in Japan ‘Krayany” with the Support of the Embassy of Ukraine to Japan.
Ukraine at the Christmas market in Japan

Although these festive-style events might seem small-scale, each holiday like this is a chance for Ukrainians globally not only to keep Ukrainian traditions going in their local communities, but to become culture diplomats and show that the beautiful sides of their country and its traditions to the members of the communities in which they live.

A hybrid war demands an asymmetric response. Around the world, Ukrainian volunteer communities and activists resist the Kremlin’s well-financed machine propaganda and war machine. Euromaidan Press long-term project #FormulaOfAction is aimed to collect and share experience of conducting successful actions and campaigns among activists.
Edited by: Alya Shandra
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