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‘We will just live our lives’: Ukrainians insist on celebrating New Year despite curfews and missile strikes

Imagine this: New Year’s Eve at Kyiv’s St Sophia’s Cathedral square.

As families gather around the square, a guitarist plays the melody to George Michael’s Last Christmas.

The festive lights go out at 9pm and there is only one light source: the northern star in the bell tower. The crowd begins to thin two hours before curfew. Families make their way home at night as the blue lights from police vans bounce off the dimmed Christmas tree.

Ukraine war news: Russia launches new attacks

Image The golden bulbous construction of St Sophia’s Cathedral

The most popular holiday in Ukraine is New Years. Despite the fact that the day was marred by a Russian missile attack that killed 10 people in Kiev, many are still enjoying it. After the curfew lifts at 6 a.m., house parties end and many young people go to the nightclubs to party the rest of the day.

Insistence on celebrating is an act of resistance.

“The basic idea is that Russia is terrorizing and putting fear in our hearts, and they’re not getting it. “We will live our lives. It might not be convenient, but it doesn’t really matter,” Zhenya Melnyk said at a house party close to St Sophia’s Square.

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Two more blasts sound in the capital shortly after midnight. Although the streets are empty, the celebrations continue as people shout out from their blocks to one another and sing the national anthem defiance.

Many young Ukrainians have seen their lives drastically change. Many civilians have given up their jobs and everyday comforts to join the Armed Forces.

Image Young Ukrainians attending a New Year’s Eve Party

Eugene was a media and advertising professional before Russia invaded Ukraine in February. He is currently a lieutenant in Ukraine’s Armed Forces. When the war ends, he plans to return to his former life and leave the military.

“It was impossible for me to leave because I joined the army to protect the country, government, and even language. He said that he joined the forces to defend my family, my lifestyle, and the freedoms we enjoy in Ukraine.

Families walked through the rubble of Russian tanks and took possession of artillery under the protection of St Michael’s Golden-domed monastery.

Image Families weave through the rubble of destroyed Russian tanks on New Year’s Day

Although many New Year’s hangovers felt refreshed by the fresh air and symbolic destruction, most people feel fatigued.

“I wanted to believe we would have a peaceful night at the very least. No, our neighbours decided we don’t deserve it so they sent some New Year gifts and it was disgusting,” Olha Kuchek, a Kyiv resident, as she carries her 3-year-old son.

In 2022, the fighting spirit of Ukrainians captured the imagination of the world. However, the most enduring sentiment heading into the new year was the desire to not have any fights.


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