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St. Nicholas Traditions Live on in the Ukrainian Canadian Community [+VIDEO]

 Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies at the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg)


Many members of the Ukrainian Canadian community are gearing up to the celebration of St. Nicholas Day which happens on the Julian Calendar on Dec. 19th  (Western Christians that still celebrate this saint did so on Dec. 6  according to the Gregorian calendar– a 13 day difference between the two calendars). This day is devoted to gift giving and love for children – this is the original date of the gift giving season, which is now moved to Christmas day.

The saint is actually a historical figure from the III and IV centuries. St. Nicholas was born in 270 and died in 346, exactly on Dec. 19th – hence his name day. St. Nicholas was a prominent bishop (in the city of Myr in present day Turkey) of the early church and was a miracle worker, thus he is often called St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker. St. Nicholas, as tradition has it, was a great believer in the youth and secretly did much gift giving to children, especially the poor ones. In Ukraine for over a thousand years as well as in the Ukrainian Canadian community this still occurs as gifts are often left for children on this day.

The Ukrainian Canadian community also honours St. Nicholas with concerts. Many parishes, Ukrainian schools and Ukrainian youth organizations host a St. Nicholas concert on the exact name day or the closest Sunday. Songs to St. Nicholas are sung, verses recited and his biography is read. At the end a Byzantine dressed bishop (a far cry from the Santa Claus concept) – St. Nicholas enters the auditorium and extols in words his love of children and of course distributes gifts. This has become a classic Ukrainian Canadian celebration wherever Ukrainian Canadians live from coast to coast.

For more information on this matter and other Ukrainian Canadian news events contact Professor Roman Yereniuk, Acting Director of the Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies at the University of Manitoba at 204-474-8907 or


EDITORIAL: Ой Хто Хто Миколая любить (Who loves St. Nicholas) – Ukrainian Christmas carol

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