According to Ukraine’s Constitution, the ‘official’ number of holidays in any given year is supposed to be ten. In chronological order they include: New Year’s Day (1 January), Ukrainian Christmas (7 January), International Women’s Day (8 March), Easter (19 April), Labour Days (1-2 May), Victory Day (9 May), the Holy Trinity (7 June), Constitution Day (28 June) and Independence Day (24 August), and each is meant to be a statutory day off. What’s atypically accommodating about our Government is that they also try to combine the holidays to ensure that an acceptable amount of time is given to the required activity of drinking excessive amounts of beer or vodka, eating gluttonous amounts of food, and in general, just be a lazy plop. New Year’s Day, for example, is very close to Ukrainian Christmas and so it made little sense for people to come back to work in between the two. So, some ‘committee’ decided that the peoples’ time would be better allocated if we just took two weeks off. And why not? Well, maybe commerce suffers, but who cares!.
The Real Deal
One of the holidays we still celebrate in this country as well as by Ukrainians all over the world (which I think is a little superfluous) is Malanka or ‘Old New Year’. The name of this celebration is a bit contradictory in itself, as it is very rare that anything old can in fact be new. In any case, it exists, and continues to exert its authority on the 13th of January. The reason lies in the changing over of calendars, from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian, where the difference is approximately 13 days. It was Pope Gregory XIII who reformulated this shift as too many leap days had been included in the version presented by Julius Caesar. The problem included the solstices and equinoxes also, where they advanced about 11 minutes each year meaning the Julian calendar gained a day about every 134 years. The Gregorian adaptation was adopted more or less in most countries around the world by the middle of the 18th century; it wouldn’t find reform in Imperial Russia until 1918.
Another interesting holiday or perhaps name for a holiday is Labour Day. The funniest part about this celebration is that no one, in fact, labours! Today we may often walk along the most famous street in town, waving flags and generally enjoying the feeling of unity Labour Day is meant to instill, in Soviet times, this wasn’t always the case: then, these were not days off for the hard working class but a ‘celebration’ in which everyone was ‘invited’ to attend and take part in many different demonstrative festivities. This invitation was an obligation and no one was allowed not to attend. Carrying bright red banners, marching under the warm spring sun, you were supposed to get that warm, fuzzy feeling of pride in and for your county: I can only imagine what the reality must have been.
Reasonable Reasons to Remember
Aside from these festivities that have roots in the old Soviet regime, there are also a few international holidays which Ukraine has adopted that take the holiday scheme just one step further. One such example is internationally recognised ‘Thank You Day’ on the 11th of January. While some may see it as a bit redundant to dedicate a day to being polite, it may not be that silly at all in fact, as it could just get a little bit more sincerity out of the citizens of our country. ‘Proshu’ and ‘Dyakuyu’ (please and thank you in Ukrainian) may just catch on…
There is also International Day of the Hug (21 January) and The Kiss (6 July) which have easily been adapted by the youth in Ukraine. The day for snuggling up is in fact more than 30 years old and found its roots in Western Europe (presumably because it’s a good excuse to warm up). It’s also a good way to get a little closer to your friends, exchanging the warmth of your souls as you go in for a squeeze. The day for a little smoochie-smoochie got going in Great Britain and it pursues the same idea as it’s counterpart. You should in fact, be at the ready the whole day as total strangers have been known to come up wanting to bear down with a nice big wet one. I guess it’s a good day to be in Ukraine.
In addition to expressing ourselves physically, there is also a day that should be in our repertoire 365 days out of the year and that is Kindness Day. Typically recognised the 17th of February, all you have to do is treat everyone with a little kindness and respect.
The wish to constantly be in that party mood led us to look at things and even symbols, for which we have found a reason to acknowledge. For example, on 4 March, 1877, the American inventor Emil Berliner created the microphone. 100 hundred years later, the International Day of the Microphone was established and all musicians and music makers alike got the celebration which acknowledges this now even louder ability to reach new distances, on the go.
Whether it is necessary to have a whole day allotted to its invention or not I’m not entirely sure, but as the stapler was created on 5 March 1868, it has its own day and is celebrated annually; by whom we’re not sure.
But perhaps the one that takes the pot is the International Day of Toilets – no, we’re not joking! 19 November, 2001, was the day the ITO (International Toilet Organisation) got together to ensure that one of the most important seats in the house is revered as just that.
19 September, 1982 at 11:44 in the morning, the very first smiley face ever, was sent. It was dreamed up by Psychology Professor Scott Falman, who upon sending a letter to a few of his colleagues, wanted to make his salutation a little bit lighter and so added the :-) It is now famous the world over, conquering the Internet, our telecommunications and certainly the fashion world.
Another one that has created a real stir, exists primarily in the world of mathematics and yet, has also found a following in Hollywood. It is the infamous number or symbol Pi. The official date was calculated is unknown but because the number is 3.1415926(never-ending!) its holiday is acknowledged as the American version of dates 3.14 (March 14th).
You may not believe it, but there is also a day out there that celebrates left-handers. Created in 1992, on 13 August, the British Organisation of Left-Handed People wanted to attract the attention of all manufacturers out there, who have a tendency of making everything accessible to the dominant right-handed population. Which turns out that right isn’t always right.
And the day perhaps that all of those who sit in the big chair await each year, is Boss’s Day. Thought up in 1962 by a greedy American secretary, Patricia Harosky, she thought it may be a good way to let those who controlled her salary know just how much she appreciated them. It soon spread all over the world and on 16 October, you too can participate in the suck-up procedure that attempts to raise your professional position.
There are always reasons (or in some cases excuses) that deserve a little ink on our calendars. People, things, events… But perhaps the real reason behind these sometimes nonsensical days is the optimistic desire to keep from getting inundated with the lackluster everyday. So whether you want to celebrate Alexander, pie or Halloween, there’s a day out there to do it; all you have to do is get involved.