Refugee Children Celebrate St. Nicholas Day in Ukraine

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This winter not every Ukrainian child will be waking up in his own bed, in his own home, or in his own city on the morning of St. Nicholas. The war in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts has caused the displacement of more than 500 thousand Ukrainians. Thousands of families have fled eastern Ukraine to save their lives. Government agencies are unprepared to handle such great numbers of internal refugees requiring social services that include housing aid, food aid, and psychological therapy plus incorporating those people into the job market. Volunteer and civic organizations as well as the organized initiatives of the refugees themselves are most effective in solving the above mentioned problems.

On December 17th, 19 volunteers from Kyiv with the support and assistance of concerned Europeans and members of the German Lutheran Church, arranged a St. Nicholas Day celebration for more than 100 children from Eastern Ukraine.

St. Nicholas Day is a holiday the whole world knows. Like children everywhere, children in Ukraine wait for it impatiently every year. The way the holiday is celebrated in Ukraine can differ from region to region and from family to family. It can include going to church for a prayer service. It can include kids painstakingly writing perfectly formulated letters that include a catalog of flawless behavior in the past year and requests for desired gifts.


  1. 0:00-0:11 - overview of the German Lutheran Church in Kyiv. 0:15-0:24 - entering inside children's parents/relatives while waiting for their children have opportunity to communicate and taste hot tea. 0:25-0:28 - interior of the German Lutheran Church in Kyiv 0:29 - 0:39 - volunteers with children discussed what type of game they gonna play. 0:40 - 0:49 - arts made by children during St Nicholas celebration: angels, Xmas trees, etc. 0:50 - 1:03 - children introduce themselves while holding a blue balloon (they call their names: Daniel, Kiril, Marina etc) 1:04 - 1:41 - a volunteer 'fox' proposes finally to start a game, children agreed saying all together 'lets play'...and game 'catch me if you can' starts. 1:42 - 1:46 - interior. 1:47 - 2:39 - another game starts. Rules: each kid with closed eyes but with clues from other kid must to get to another wall on which these is a drawing horse and to manage to stick the improvised tail to a proper place at the picture. 2:40 - 2:56 - games, paining, communications go on. 2:57 - 3:06 - children leaving the room. 3:07 - 3:32 - interview with organizator - Maryna Chorna. 3:33 - 3:51 - the main hall of the German Lutheran Church in Kyiv. The children discussed the feeling of today's celebration with volunteers. 3:52 - 3:55 - children raise their hands to prove they were obedient in the past year and deserve to receive gifts. 4:56 - 4:23 - children receive the presents. 4:24 - 4:33 - happiness of children. 4:34 - 4:40 - children receive the presents. 4:41 - 4:46 - happiness of children. 4:47 - 4:54 - children receive the presents. 4:55 - 5:06 - children make photo with volunteer dressed as story characters, continue receive presents. 5:07 - 5:17 - the gifts the children received (drawing and writing tablets, pencils, paints, and office supplies). 5:18 - 5:24 - room where children and their relatives have hot tea and cakes and exchange their emotions of celebration.


  1. soundbite (Ukrainian)
    Maryna Chorna, Volunteer: "Today we have organized this celebration for refugee children from the East. Our organization is called "Atonement for Peace"...and we arrange this event due to our sponsors's support and volunteers who participate in roles as an 'angel', a 'fox', and St. Nicholas...and we go on this celebration tomorrow and the day after tomorrow''.