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Celebrating Ukrainian Christmas

On Saturday 7th January 2023, John Leggott College held an amazing first time event in which staff, students and members of our community were able to learn about and experience a different culture. Due to the war in Ukraine many Ukrainians have sought out refuge here in the UK. Our communities have stood in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and tried our best to make them feel welcome in this country. This event has really shown this. The College's excellent commitment to its community has allowed our staff from Ukraine to share their Christmas traditions with us. A special appearance was also made by Holly Mumby-Croft (our local MP) and Janet Longcake the deputy mayor of Scunthorpe.

The main part of the event took place in the core. The core is a brilliant immersive space - perfect for events like this and talks. It was so great to see staff and members of our community ready to learn and experience Ukrainian culture. Many members of the community were also actually from Ukraine which was great to see! A fantastically put together slideshow was presented in both English and Ukrainian. The slideshow informed us of all the amazing traditions that take place during Christmas time in Ukraine.

Christmas in Ukraine happens on the 7th of January unlike most countries where it takes place on the 25th of December. This is because they use the Julian calendar and we use the Gregorian calendar. On the dinner table three things are placed at each corner. Money to represent prosperity for the year to come, garlic to get rid of all the evil and finally grain to hope to be well fed. Instead of Christmas trees, traditionally in a Ukrainian household a Christmas spider made out of straw would be hung from the central beam of the house symbolising the universe. Finally, on Christmas eve every house should have a Didukh. The Didukh is a festive sheaf of wheat that brings happiness, health and luck to families.

After learning about these Christmas traditions we had the pleasure of watching a brilliant nativity performed by some very talented young Ukrainians currently living in the area. I’m sure they had as much fun taking part in it as we had watching it. It was also great to listen to some Ukrainian Christian carols.

We then all made our way to Society Street Kitchen (our spacious dining area) to try some Christmas snacks. There was a range of delicious meats, fruits and cheese. A special mention to the fish jelly as well that intrigued many. The main attraction however was the Kutia. Kutia is a sacred dish with poppy seeds, honey, nuts and raisins. It represents rebirth and wellbeing and was very tasty!

MP Holly Mumby-Croft and Deputy Mayor Janet Longcake expressed their gratitude whilst being involved in such an important event. It is crucial that we all learn about different cultures and become more worldly. Despite Ukraine having many different traditions than us, the basis of Christmas remains the same for everyone. Family and happiness are extremely important. We hope to host more events like this in the future and hopefully you’ll be able to join us!

Toby Hewitt - Year one student.

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