How Ukrainian refugees will spend Christmas in the UK – and remember those left behind | UK news | Daily News Byte

How Ukrainian refugees will spend Christmas in the UK – and remember those left behind |  UK news

 | Daily News Byte


Ukrainians celebrating their first Christmas in the UK are writing letters to Santa Claus and planning traditional meals – but their thoughts are also with loved ones inside the devastated country.

Kateryna Chebizak, 34, works as a telephone interpreter and arrived from Kiev with her seven-year-old son Kolya in April via Poland and Germany.

She said Christmas in Ukraine is on January 7, as set by the Orthodox Church, but her son is looking forward to receiving his presents earlier this year.

“Usually in Ukraine, we only get presents under the Christmas tree in the New Year, but [in the UK] It works differently”, she said.

“Now he’s waiting for his two presents, and he’s really excited.

“Since it’s school holidays, he’s writing letters to Santa Claus.”

The pair will spend the day with friends in Enfield, north London, exchanging gifts, going for walks, doing arts and crafts activities and playing card games.

Ms Chebyzak said her parents live in Ukraine, adding: “Usually we have traditions where my mother (Tatiana) will always make 12 dishes that symbolize the 12 months of the year, and we’ll make a wish and go to sleep on Christmas Eve, And it should come true.

“My sister Anna also lived far away from them, and she also left for Greece with her two children, so they are alone, and she has no grandchildren nearby,” she added.

“My mom and dad can sit together and watch some movies or listen to the Ukrainian national anthem, and we’ll get a phone call, but they’re coping and doing well even though it’s not a good situation.”

Ms Chebizak said she dreams of peace in Ukraine and hopes to return to see Kolya’s father “because she misses him so much”.

Meanwhile, thanks to donations from a crowdfunder set up by platform Beam, she is focusing on her dream of becoming a fully-qualified interpreter.

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Back row left to right - Vasil, Olha and Taras (front row left to right) Anna, Volodymyr and Mia.  Olha Komarnitska, who lives in Birmingham with her children, Mia, 15, and Volodymyr, 13, is set to experience her first Christmas in the UK with her host family, despite the Orthodox Church usually celebrating Christmas on January 7.
Olha – in the middle of the back row – with her children, in front of Volodymyr and Mia. He is pictured with other family members

‘We will always remember the UK’s help’

Olha Komarnitska, who lives in Birmingham with her children – Mia, 15, and Volodymyr, 13 – arrived from western Ukraine in May.

“We usually celebrate Christmas in January, but I think many Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas in December this year because Russians celebrate Christmas in January, and that’s not very good for us because we’re fighting Russia,” said the 42-year-old cleaner. .

She said they will go to church together on December 25 before sitting down to a Christmas dinner with a combination of British and Ukrainian cuisine.

“I plan to make cabbage with rice, meat carrots and onions and a Ukrainian salad with potatoes, carrots, meat, onions and cucumbers,” she added.

But many will not be with her – Ms Komarnitska’s husband, parents and two brothers are still in Ukraine.

“It’s not good, we’re not happy – but the situation is very bad because of the ongoing war in Ukraine and there’s a bad electricity situation where a lot of people don’t have electricity,” she said.

“I think next Christmas we’ll be in Ukraine, but we’ll always remember how nice and helpful people in the UK have been to Ukrainians.”


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