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Ukrainian cities put up special Christmas trees amidst the blackouts and the ongoing war

Even in the darkest times, there is still a place for light. And sometimes – even for Christmas lights.

Photo: Kyiv City State Administration

2022 has not been the year any Ukrainian wished for. For more than 300 days the country has been defending itself from the Russian invasion and living in a state of full-scale war with regular air raid alerts, missile and drone attacks, and blackouts across the whole territory.

In such conditions, more than half of regional centers decided to skip the Christmas tree for this holiday season. That includes Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Odesa, and others.

However, there are many cities that chose to still put up the Christmas tree, just with a different approach than in years before. 

In Kyiv, the whole of Sofiivska Square is usually filled with lights, various decorations and street food spots. But for this winter, only a 12-meter tree was installed. It is decorated with blue and yellow ornaments, saved from the past years, and figurines of white doves that symbolize peace. 

The Christmas tree is topped with the coat of arms of Ukraine – tryzub – rather than the traditional star. And in the lower parts, the flags of countries that help Kyiv cope with the consequences of the war have been placed. The tree is partially lit with the energy-efficient lights that are powered from the generator.

Photo: Kyiv City State Administration

Another traditional place for the Christmas tree in Kyiv is the hall of the railway station. This year did not become an exception, but there is a twist: one may turn on the lights by pedaling a special device.

In Kharkiv, the main city Christmas tree along with other decorations was installed underground, in a metro station. Since February 2022, residents of the city have been using metro stations as bomb shelters, as Kharkiv suffers from ruthless Russian shellings.

Now, they may spend several hours underground on a much merrier occasion: Ihor Terekhov, the city mayor, said that people can celebrate the New Year near the tree, as long as they respect the curfew. That means staying on the station from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

In Mykolaiv, this year’s Christmas tree is even more surprising. In fact, it is not even a tree. The monument to Saint Nicholas in the city center was covered with sandbags to protect it from the shelling back in autumn. Now, green camouflage nets were put over it, and the “tree” got decorated with some lights and ornaments to bring a bit of joy to the children in the city.

Photo: Suspilne

Lviv stuck to a more traditional look, with the Christmas tree topper being the main change. It was made in the shape of an anti-tank obstacle. The tree will be lit only for a couple of hours a day in the evenings, and if the power is out in the district at that time – it will also remain in the dark.

Photo: Lviv City Counsil

In Ivano-Frankivsk, an installation resembling the Christmas tree was put in the city center. The metal frame is filled with 350 children’s drawings, symbols of liberated Ukrainian cities, blue and yellow ribbons, and topped with tryzub. 

Photo: Ivano-Frankivsk City Council

With or without the Christmas tree, millions of Ukrainians share the same wish for the upcoming year: to repel the Russian invasion, to protect their loved ones, and to live peacefully and free on their land. Stand with Ukraine to bring that victorious day closer and spread the light while the dark hour is still not over.