By Iryna Paltseva

Christmas is without a doubt the most magical time of the year.

Living in Ukraine, I thought that we were celebrating Christmas quite magnificently, but only when I arrived in Canada did I see how important the holiday is to many Canadians.

What surprised me the most was how early preparations begin.

Back in October, when it was +15C outside, Christmas trees, toys, and decor already appeared in most stores.

In Ukraine at this time, no one thinks about Christmas yet. Perhaps this is because Orthodox Christmas comes on January 7, two weeks later.

Consequently, we celebrate the New Year more, as this holiday comes first.

Christmas in Ukraine is considered a quiet family holiday.

If I were at home, our whole large family would gather at my husband’s grandmother’s house.

Each family would bring her own kutya (traditional Christmas porridge made from pre-soaked wheat with raisins, dried fruits, nuts, poppy seeds, and honey).

Grandma would put 12 fasting dishes on the table, and everyone would start dinner with a small spoonful of kutya. After dinner, we would go caroling.

I have a lot of warm family memories associated with Christmas, so this year the holiday will definitely be overshadowed for us because of the events in Ukraine and our longing for relatives and friends.

Luckily, we were fortunate to meet amazing people here.

With joy and pride, I can say that we already have our own Canadian family!

The amazing woman Nancy Relihan and her family in Jackson’s Point hosted us in the spring. We were confused and completely lost, and they helped us so much; I consider finding them my own last year’s Christmas miracle come true.

Although we have been living in Etobicoke for several months, we will definitely go to Jackson’s Point for Christmas.

I want to see what a traditional Canadian Christmas Eve looks like.

I really hope that my little daughter would love to wake up in the morning and see a bunch of gifts under the tree, and most importantly, a lot of smiling faces and people she loves.

I know for sure that having a family is much more important than any material gift.

Personally, I will ask Santa to help her to believe everything will be fine from now on!



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