Officials in the Ukrainian capital lit a tree in the city center on Monday, saying they would not allow Russia to “steal” Christmas this year from Ukrainian children.
The day began with a series of attacks on a range of critical infrastructure in Kyiv. But at the end of the day, a 12-meter-high artificial tree was installed in the center of the capital, symbolically decorated with the doves of peace.
A few dozen residents braved the freezing cold to admire the tree – which borders Kyiv’s St. Sophia Cathedral and its famous golden domes – and take selfies.
Among them, the tourism company Natalia. Rejoice with AFP: the tree “brings a festive atmosphere in such a difficult period”.
“It’s a symbolic element of our year-end celebrations,” she adds, pointing to the tree lit up by a constellation of blue and yellow dots, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
At the top is the country’s coat of arms, which depicts a golden trident.
said the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, during a tree-laying ceremony.
According to Orthodox tradition, Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7, but opinion polls show that an increasing number of people prefer to bring the date forward to December 25, in line with other churches.
A poll conducted by Interfax-Ukraine showed that support for change has increased from 26% in 2021 to 44% in 2022.
The mayor said the Kyiv city council was initially reluctant to install the tree, referring to attacks by Russian forces that have caused blackouts and depleted Ukraine’s power grid.
As a result, millions of people were left without electricity in the middle of winter.
In this context, the city has adapted. Therefore, the fairy tree lights are powered by a diesel generator, and decorations from previous years are reused.
“We called it + the invincible Ukraine + Christmas tree,” Mr. Klitschko declared, emphasizing that everything was done “so that the children can have a vacation despite the difficult times.”
But it’s hard to ignore the conflict and get into the Christmas spirit.
“There is no special festive atmosphere,” cowardly accountant Tetyana Prikhodko told AFP.
I have just moved from Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine that Russian forces have occupied for months.
I just hope that eventually everything will come to an end, and that peace will come. “We’re all waiting for that,” she said.