The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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It’s official the holidays are over. I marked the end of the holiday season when, I ran out of the seasonal cookies and gingerbread tea my mother sent me.

As usual, I’m super busy and therefore behind on blog entries about the festivities at school, life here in Ukraine, and the 2-week vacation my school gave me.

In Ukraine, the holiday season can be rough for volunteers. Since Christmas isn’t celebrated until January, 7th (Ukrainians follow the Russian Orthodox calendar).

However, New Year is celebrated similarly to Christmas- people decorate trees, give gifts, and kids get visited by a Ukrainian version of Santa Claus.

It can still be the most wonderful time of the year!

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This year, I asked my school if my students could do two weeks worth of activities related to holiday traditions in the United States and Great Britain.

We discussed– Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year’s traditions in America, and of course Christmas.

The kids learned about the legend of Santa Claus.

Here are they are doing a crossword puzzle related to a text we read in class.

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It was a week of games, crossword puzzles, power points, holiday music, and  prizes!

The kids really liked it when they learned about the saying ‘naughty‘ or ‘nice‘- if they said they were nice they got to pick a treat out of a gift bag– if they were naughty, they got a picture of coal :).

My crazy boyfriend (also a volunteer) came up to my site for a week during the Christmas holidays.

We met in Odessa over the weekend (six hours away from both him and me).

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And yes- I may just visit Odessa so I can visit my favorite restaurant! This breakfast sandwich is uber cheap and super yum! 😀

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The great thing about Odessa is there are so many ex-pats and foreigners there. So, it was really nicely decorated for both American Christmas and New Year.

It’s a charming city…

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Very quiet in comparison to Kiev.

And sort of like walking in a winter wonderland…

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No one is ever in a hurry here…

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And it is such a parallel to many any other European cities…

On Christmas Eve, I stringed some popcorn.

For the first time ever.

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And my crazy boyfriend made us some butter chicken for Christmas Eve dinner. (With a few different varying ingredients).

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A nice treat since, it’s very difficult to find spicy food in Ukraine!

On, Christmas morning we exchanged gifts and I headed off to work to see these faces:

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We had a whole day of Christmas activities that included word searches, a listening activity with Frosty The Snowman, writing Christmas cards, watching a power point…

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And having some fun!

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It was a nice break for them and me– especially since they had finished their exams the week earlier.

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(Our Christmas vocabulary)

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Finally- towards the end of the week I got invited by some of my students to their New Year’s parties.

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Each class, had their own party- this is the party for my fourth form all-stars:

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Aren’t they adorable?

The kids, had games…

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Relays…

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And a lot of fun!

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It was really nice to be included in their celebration of the upcoming New Year.

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And yes there was even dancing!

IMG_5157These kids know how to dance 🙂

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I kind of think of Ukrainian New Year as Christmas meets Halloween. The kids, dress up in some adorable costumes and outfits.

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And get gifts from their own version of Santa Claus.

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IMG_5231I was also invited to come to my fifth former rock-star’s party as well.

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Here the kids performed a skit on an alien visiting Ukraine learning about the New Year(or at least that’s what I think it was ;))

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They had relays…

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Games…

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(Is Miss Kimberly taking our photo again?)

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(In Ukraine– their version of Santa Claus is always seen with the ‘Snowmaiden’ who is believed to be his granddaughter and he always seen carrying a staff).

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And yes- there was dancing! Although I didn’t get many photos because, the kids asked me to join 🙂

I did the chicken dance, and some other moves that brought dorky dancing to Ukraine 😀

I think Americans call the holidays ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ because, of the people we get to spend the holidays with.

Even though I was far from home.

It was still a wonderful holiday season…

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Filled with new and old friends… My new school family…

And my Peace Corps. family.

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And it was still one of the most special/greatest times of the year!

Wishing you peace and love in the NEW YEAR! Happy year of the snake! 🙂

(And more to come on the traveling that followed during school vacation ;))

3 thoughts on “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

  1. Ah, Odessa! It’s so nice to see your pics of that city, especially those colorful Christmas trees in the street : )

    Btw, I noticed some of your students wearing their winter coats in the classroom. Is it usually cold in the classrooms there?

  2. There’s a problem with our town’s main gasline– so a lot of homes and buildings don’t have gas heating. We use small electric radiators and electric heaters instead. 🙂 So, we let the kids wear coats in the classrooms if they feel uncomfortable.

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