Ukrainian hall in Saanich opens doors for Christmas Eve celebrations

Ukrainian hall in Saanich opens doors for Christmas Eve celebrations

WATCH: Many across Greater Victoria are chipping their trees and packing away the Christmas lights, but Ukrainian Canadians are just getting started. An event hosted by the Ukrainian Studies Society in Saanich had everything from food to ancient traditions on display. Julian Kolsut reports.



The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Saanich was filled Saturday night, one day before the group celebrates their Christmas Eve according to the ancient Julian calendar.

The Ukrainian Studies Society hosted the event, with the proceeds going towards educational programs.

“We have established an endowment at the University of Victoria for the teaching of Ukrainian and also history of Ukrainian,” said the krainian Studies Society and Ukranian Cultural Centre’s Patricia Sembaliuk.

“It’s the only university in British Columbia that teaches Ukrainian and also Ukranian History.”

The group also provides scholarships for students from various universities.

Food was a major aspect of the dinner, with traditional dishes like Kutia, Borscht and pelmeni.

Twelve meatless dishes were served, all avoiding any barnyard animals as Jesus was born in a manger.

Although some back at home may not have the chance to celebrate the major holiday.

Back in 2013, the Euromaidan protests erupted in Ukraine’s capital as the country’s government pulled away from Europe. What followed was major instability in the region, the Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia and eastern Ukraine is still seeing efforts by separatists to leave the state.

“Definitely [the community] are feeling that particularly, the newcomers who have come, our choir is made up of primarily of people who have just recently come from Ukraine. There is alot of empathy there from amongst the Ukrainian people here,” said Sembaliuk.

It’s all the more reason for the community here in Victoria to stand strong— organizers say the money raised here goes will go to keeping Ukrainian culture and language alive.

The event was hosted on Saturday, one day early to allow staff to spend the real day on Sunday with family.

As the night wound down the carols sounded and the children got to find the hidden treats in the hay placed under the tables.

For the over 1.3 million Ukrainians in Canada tonight, their trees and traditions will continue to shine.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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