January in southern Ukraine starts off exciting and ends on a snowy note.
December 31 and January 1 are big holidays celebrating the New Year. The tree and lights are put up for New Years and presents are bought. Everyone seems to stay up until midnight and the big cities are lit up with fireworks going off everywhere at midnight and through the night. A meal is usually served after the midnight festivities and the party continues.
January 7 is Ukrainian Christmas. It is a traditional religious holiday. On Christmas Eve, Ukrainians wait until the first star can be seen to eat dinner. Kutia, a delicious wheat berry pudding, is served, as well as 11 other dishes, according to Ukrainian Christmas tradition.
"Stary Novy Goad" or Old New Year is celebrated on January 14. It has to do with the shift from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Our teammate in Odessa, Caleb Suko, explains it well...
"Religious holidays in Ukraine are determined by the Orthodox Church, which follows the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Cesar in 45 BC. However, most of the rest of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced in 1582 to correct the Julian calendar.
What’s the difference?
The main difference between the two calendars is how leap years are calculated. The Gregorian calendar does not add a leap day to most years that our divisible by 100. Thus the years 1800 and 1900 were not leap years although they are divisible by 4.
The result is that the Gregorian calendar is 10 minutes and 48 seconds per year shorter than the Julian calendar. That means that every 133 years the Julian calendar falls behind by a day.
Currently the old Julian calendar is thirteen days behind the newer Gregorian calendar, thus Christmas comes on January 7th, exactly 13 days after December 25."
...and January 14 is exactly 13 days after January 1.
The rest of January
Snow, ice, slush, mud, and repeat...
Odessa is well known for its mud. It seems like one just can't avoid it. There is usually a period of 2-3 weeks after a snowfall when there is ice that is frozen for quite a while. I've fallen on that slick stuff several times! Then the temperatures moderate, and the ice becomes a slushy mud mixture. Those driving cars sometimes are not wary of the pedestrians they are splashing with that slushy mix!
How is January in your area? Are there holidays and celebrations? Is it nice and sunny or cold and snowy?