January 27, 2023 9:40 pm

Ukrainian Christmas: Hundreds attend celebrations in Belfast

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas Day is marked on 7 January, in accordance with the Julian calendar.

This weekend there would traditionally be celebrations in both Ukraine and Russia, with Vladimir Putin having proposed a ceasefire for the occasion.

Event organisers said the Ukrainian community wanted to thank the people of Northern Ireland for their support.

There are at least 1,842 Ukrainian refugees in Northern Ireland who have arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sinn Féin’s Tina Black, was at the event at Girdwood Community Centre and said it is imperative that the occasion was marked.

“They need support, they deserve support and they’re away from home this year,” she said.

“I do hope and pray that 2023 brings some respite to the Ukrainian community.”

Ukrainian Food Northern Ireland
Image caption,

Eastern Orthodox Ukrainians celebrate Christmas Day on 7 January

Oleg Shenkaruk, chair of Ukrainians in Northern Ireland Community group, said the event was an opportunity to thank those that have worked to integrate the community.

 

“It is very important to remind people that we are still here. War is still continuing, we are in a good position now… soldiers have shown they actually can protect Ukraine and the whole of Europe,” he said.

“It’s our event to support Ukrainian families who are here without their husbands, who are protecting the country,” he added.

Ukrainian christmas performers in Belfast
Image caption,

The event was organised as a “thank you” to the people of Northern Ireland

Kateryna Zaichyk organised a concert at the event, and said music and Ukrainian traditions are a reminder of home for those attending.

“It’s our soul,” she said.

“This year was very hard for us and we are feeling big support… we would like to thank everyone.

“Most of [the people here] are mothers with kids, without any fathers, husbands, granddads, they are feeling alone. It’s a very sad time for them, we would like to give them enjoyment,” she added.

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