Ukrainian Christmas observed in Limerick

Some of the refugees who took part in the Ukrainian Christmas celebration.

THE STORY of Ukraine was described in song and dance at a celebration of culture that saw refugees fleeing the war in their homeland take some time out to celebrate their own traditional Christmas last week.

More than 60 refugees, mostly women and children, got involved in making traditional costumes and floral headbands for the event.

They were joined in a cultural exchange that saw Irish dancers, singers, and musicians perform.

“Limerick dance teachers got involved and they taught the Ukrainians how to do the Walls of Limerick. It was a lovely event,” event organiser Una Heaton told the Limerick  Post.

January 7 is the date on which the Russian Orthodox Church normally celebrates Christmas. Many Ukrainians have now broken away from that church, this year celebrating their traditional Christmas on January 6 instead.

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“It was a fantastic day when they were able to think about something other than the war. People of every age from small kids to grandparents got involved. When we called for volunteers to get up and do some Irish dancing, the floor was mobbed.”

As well as celebrating in song and dance, the Ukranian families made traditional savoury dishes to share, with Una distributed donated sweets and other goodies from the Limerick community.

“We even had Christmas crackers on the tables. They were a bit mystified, I don’t think they know about crackers,” said Una.

The majority of the celebrants were women and children, with just a handful of men. Fathers of three or more children are encouraged to travel with their families to help get them to safety, Una explained.

A city centre venue, which did not want to be named publicly, opened its doors for the Christmas celebration and everyone made a huge effort, according to Una.

“When they had to leave their country, they didn’t think they would be wearing traditional costumes, so they made them themselves and made dolls for everyone. It was fantastic and it was so lovely to share the day with them,” she concluded.

Deputy Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon with organisers of the Ukrainian Christmas celebration.
Some of the refugees who took part in the Ukrainian Christmas celebration.
Two of the young refugees who took part in the Ukrainian Christmas celebration.