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Ukrainians live Christmas in fear and grief: “Many people have lost their families”



According to the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus was born in a manger, and with that simplicity, many disadvantaged civilians will have to spend Christmas during this year of war. The constant Russian attacks, which have destroyed the power grid in a country where temperatures drop several degrees below zero in winter, will darken a holiday that Ukrainian families do not give up celebrating with warmth and hope in their hearts for peace. “We are lucky, because we are alive,” Oksana Markiev, 40, who was born in Lviv and lives in Spain, says in a phone conversation. “This year will be difficult for everyone, because some families have been massacred. We are very afraid for my relatives, because when there are parties, the Russians launch more bombing,” he laments, while recalling his cousin, who cooperates in logistical work for the Ukrainian army in Bakhmut and whom he loves like a brother, and to his cousin’s son, who is a soldier and is now hospitalized “I feel so afraid for them,” he says. “Many people have lost their families.” Another cousin’s husband is in Bakhmut and he won’t be able to go home because he has to stay there. A friend of mine from school lost her 22-year-old son. How will Christmas happen? It’s awful.” Related News Interview with Standard Lithuanian Foreign Minister No Landsbergis: “Ukrainians still need more weapons to win” Esteban Villarejo rejects any forced ceding of Ukrainian lands to Russia: “It would be very dangerous for the EU” Suffering of citizens There is no more suitable adjective to describe situation in your country. According to UN data on December 18, 17,595 Ukrainian civilians have suffered directly from the war; Of these, 6,826 have been killed and 10,769 wounded since the invasion, ordered by the Kremlin on February 24, began. Behind these figures are real human beings, innocent citizens like the victims of the Bukha massacre, on the outskirts of Kyiv, who have reminded the world of the horror of bound wrists, shots in the neck, and mass graves. This daily fear, experienced by the bombings, the anxiety of their occurrence, and the fear of the refugees for the fate that awaits their loved ones who were unable to leave the country, which explains why Ukraine is experiencing Christmas with war. as a fixed point on the horizon. It is noteworthy that the Kyiv Independent, a small local Ukrainian outlet that was transformed by the Russian invasion into an internationally referenced newspaper, ran a story a few days ago in which a traditional gift list was turned into a weapon. They did not ask for toys, perfumes, or watches, but air defenses, winter equipment, long-range missiles, tanks, armored vehicles, and an international commitment to victory. “Before that, we had two dinners, one on December 25 and one on January 7, but many Ukrainians have already removed the last dinner, because they say they don’t want to have anything to do with Russia,” explains Markiev, referring to the days they meet in at Christmas. Although the Gregorian calendar makes it fall on December 25, the Russian Orthodox Church has kept the Julian calendar dates, which explains the thirteen day difference and why the birth of Christ is celebrated on January 7. “At Christmas dinner only fish is eaten, and we usually have twelve dishes,” he adds, his voice happy to recall those traditions. «There are typical recipes, such as kutia [pudin dulce con granos de cereal]and motifs such as “didokh” [un ramo de trigo para tener buena suerte] And nativity scenes as we sing Christmas carols, and children wear traditional costumes and move from one house to another, sometimes with newborns, and people leave them money and sweets. In his recollections, almost unintentional details reveal the country’s religious pluralism. “I belong to the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine,” he says, “and our masses are taller than yours.” This explains why there are nativity scenes in Leopolis, because nativity scenes are usually a deeply rooted custom in Catholic countries, such as Spain, Italy or Austria. In fact, the western side of Ukraine, where that beautiful city is located and part of the Galicia region, was historically associated with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Poland. Resistance “I don’t know how Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas. The only thing they ask of God is peace, and for this horror to end,” Olga Zyryanova, 44, a Russian citizen born in Astana, residing in Spain and married to a Ukrainian, explains by phone. “The holidays won’t be easy in many ways, but I talk to people who are in Ukraine, and no matter what happens, they put up their Christmas trees, like the one in downtown Kyiv, which is under a generator so the garlands can give some light.” he says. “One of her acquaintances in the capital says that when she comes home from work it is all dark, but people put battery-powered lamps in the windows and light them. This is the incredible willpower of Ukrainians. Many Ukrainians no longer have Christmas dinner in January 7 so that they have nothing to do with Russia. My husband knows what he’s fighting for, and my heart breaks for him and what’s going on. My country, because my family is there and I don’t know what life you will live, ”explains Zyryanova, who was terrified by the war. I suffer every time there is bombing in Ukraine. It is very difficult to think that these attacks come from my land and kill people. I am against everything you do Russia. I don’t know what Putin has done to the Russians to keep us afraid and unable to rise. Even if there is no truce scheduled for Christmas, Ukrainians do not lose faith. There are no better dates to enjoy it, because hope, for many, is born before Two thousand years ago in a humble gate in Judea.

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