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Hundreds mark Ukrainian Christmas in Belfast event

time:2023-06-03 16:13:25 source:CNN (Cable News Network) author:Press center7 read:119order

More than 600 people gathered at a community centre in north Belfast on Sunday to mark Ukrainian Christmas.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas Day is marked on 7 January, in accordance with the Julian calendar.

This weekend there would traditionally be celebrations in both Ukraine and Russia, with Vladimir Putin having proposed a ceasefire for the occasion.

But President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected that, saying it was an attempt to stop Ukraine's military advances.

Event organisers said the Ukrainian community wanted to thank the people of Northern Ireland for their support.

There are at least 1,842 Ukrainian refugees in Northern Ireland who have arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sinn Féin's Tina Black, was at the event at Girdwood Community Centre and said it is imperative that the occasion was marked.

"They need support, they deserve support and they're away from home this year," she said.

"I do hope and pray that 2023 brings some respite to the Ukrainian community."

Oleg Shenkaruk, chair of Ukrainians in Northern Ireland Community group, said the event was an opportunity to thank those that have worked to integrate the community.

"It is very important to remind people that we are still here. War is still continuing, we are in a good position now... soldiers have shown they actually can protect Ukraine and the whole of Europe," he said.

"It's our event to support Ukrainian families who are here without their husbands, who are protecting the country," he added.

Kateryna Zaichyk organised a concert at the event, and said music and Ukrainian traditions are a reminder of home for those attending.

"It's our soul," she said.

"This year was very hard for us and we are feeling big support... we would like to thank everyone.

"Most of [the people here] are mothers with kids, without any fathers, husbands, granddads, they are feeling alone. It's a very sad time for them, we would like to give them enjoyment," she added.


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