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In a shelter, at a metro station, and even near the frontline: Christmas trees have been set up across Ukraine

The winter amidst Russia’s full-scale war comes with many challenges for people in Ukraine. But even despite that, Ukrainians try to cherish the joy and hope that Christmas and New Year can bring. This year, Christmas trees, though often smaller and humbler, have still been set up across the country, not only in city squares but also in shelters and metro stations.

This year, a meaningful Christmas tree was set up by volunteer Yevhen Tkachov on the Chasiv Yar – Bakhmut highway, only 6 kilometers from the Bakhmut. The volunteer said he made it for the soldiers driving this road to Bakhmut and Klishchiivka to cheer them up. The small tree was attached to a metal pole, covered with holes from bullets in many places, and decorated with yellow and blue ornaments.

Photo: the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

This year’s main Christmas tree was decorated on St. Sophia Square in Kyiv. It is as tall as its predecessor in 2022-2023 – 12 meters. The tree was installed at patrons’ expense and decorated with large yellow and blue hearts, and topped with a tryzub – the coat of arms of Ukraine.

The Christmas tree was lit up on December 6, when St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in Ukraine. The generator powers the lights in case of a power outage caused by Russian attacks on power infrastructure.

A photo zone is also set up near the country’s main Christmas tree, where several smaller trees with many toys on their branches are placed. Each visitor can take a toy there as a souvenir for a donation to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Kharkiv residents can visit their city’s main Christmas tree in the same location as in 2022 – at the Universytet metro station. The station has also been “dressed” in lights and holiday symbols. This was done to ensure the safety of the civilian population, as Kharkiv is still frequently shelled by Russian forces.

Photo: Dmytro Hrebinnyk

This year, Zaporizhzhia also chose an unusual location for the city’s main Christmas tree – the Unbreakable Hub, a multifunctional shelter space where cultural events are often held. The Christmas tree here is decorated with handmade embroidered ornaments by local artists. There are also interactive activities organized in the hub for children and their parents to give residents a sense of celebration.

The Lviv Christmas tree has been lit up in front of the city’s Opera House. Its top is decorated not with a star or a tryzub, but with an anti-tank hedgehog. The tree is 14 meters tall and was donated to the city by a married couple: it had been growing in their yard for 20 years. The tree owners wanted to share their joy with the Lviv community.

Photo: Lviv City Council

In Ivano-Frankivsk, local schoolchildren became the decorators for the Christmas tree and even made the ornaments for it themselves. A Christmas tree called the “Victory Tree” was installed in the city’s Vicheva Square. For many Ukrainian cities, Ivano-Frankivsk in particular, it was important to ensure that no funds from the local budgets were spent on holiday decorations while Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing.

Photo: Suspilne Ivano-Frankivsk

In Odesa, a Christmas tree was set up on Derebasivska Street. The tree is decorated with elements of traditional Ukrainian ornamentation and a blue and yellow ribbon. According to the Odesa City Council, it is 20 meters high and 9 meters wide. The top of the tree is crowned with a traditional Christmas star.

Many Ukrainian cities, including Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, and Kherson, have opted out of setting up a Christmas tree this year due to various security and economic factors.

However, regardless of whether there is a decorated Christmas tree on the streets, a new year will come, and Ukrainians share a common wish for it: victory in the war and reuniting families separated by it.