‘Connect them with their culture’: St. Nicholas visits Oseredok

Winnipeg’s Ukrainian cultural and heritage centre played host to more than 150 children Saturday, as they gathered to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.

The afternoon event marking a beloved Ukrainian tradition aimed to bring joy and a cultural connection to many who are still settling into their new lives in the city.

Oseredok opened its doors to families from Winnipeg’s Ukrainian community, offering holiday craft workshops, entertainment, and – of course – the opportunity to meet Saint Nicholas himself.

The event featured three time slots throughout the afternoon to allow for proper distancing and scheduling flexibility.

“All the kids will come to Oseredok, and they will have to prove to St. Nicholas that they were good this year,” said executive assistant Tetiana Pavliuk. “We will be making different activities and items to show to St. Nicholas that we are good and what we want to get. St. Nicholas will then give us prizes for that.”

For the older children, the festivities included creating a traditional Ukrainian Christmas spider, a decoration hung on the door throughout the year to catch negative thoughts and feelings. As Pavliuk described, “It’s kind of a dream catcher, Ukrainian style, and then we usually burn it before the next Christmas.”

The smaller children painted and finger-painted their Christmas decorations, depending on age.

Saint Nicholas Day falls on Dec. 6 this year, so Oseredok decided to celebrate early due to its midweek occurrence.

The Ukrainian story of Saint Nicholas speaks of his devotion to helping others, kindness, and generosity.

Pavliuk said their event was meant to help Ukrainian newcomers fleeing the war with Russia feel at home in Winnipeg, while also introducing them to Oseredok’s programs and services.

“We believe it’s that bridge that can connect them with their culture,” Pavliuk said. “Because they are in a new city, most of them don’t speak the English language, they don’t know many people yet. And having this event here in Oseredok is the chance for them to connect with other people.”

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