It was a real pleasure when a surprise copy of A Ukrainian Christmas by Nadiyka Gerbish and Yaroslav Hrytsak turned up in my post box. My huge thanks to Becky Hunter for sending it my way. I’m delighted to share my review today.
A Ukrainian Christmas was published by Sphere on 3rd November 2022 and is available in all good bookshops and online including here.
The publisher is making a donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal on publication of A Ukrainian Christmas.
A Ukrainian Christmas
The perfect gift this Christmas
‘History, stories, recipes and beautiful illustrations’ – OLINA HERCULES
‘Christmas brings the indestructibility of hope in times of the greatest hopelessness. As long as we celebrate this holiday, we can neither be defeated nor destroyed. This is the message that Ukraine is trying to convey to the world. And this is what our book is about.’
From Christmas music to gifts and food, as well as a look back through the country’s rich and troubled history through the perspective of the festive season, this beautifully illustrated and powerful book introduces readers to Ukraine’s unique Christmas traditions. In a country where East and West meet, this is a fascinating and unmissable guide to capturing the spirit of one of the most important times of year and a powerful reminder of the strength of holding on to your culture and beliefs, even as others try to take everything from you.
My Review of A Ukrainian Christmas
A celebration of Ukrainian and Christmas traditions in the face of adversity.
From the very first page it’s obvious that A Ukrainian Christmas is a very special book. I’m going to be honest and say that by the time I’d read the dedication and Foreword, before I’d even turned another page, I was in pieces. However, A Ukrainian Christmas is not a maudlin or depressing book. Far, far from it. I think it can be summed up by Nadiyka Gerbish’s comment ‘…our current suffering is not in vain, and there is still hope even in the midst of the greatest crisis.’
A Ukrainian Christmas is glorious. It doesn’t shy away from reality, but rather celebrates life, the world and Christmas in all its facets. Between the pages of this book lies history, geography, folklore, food, challenge, humanity, hope and love. There’s everything from Cromwell’s banning of carol singing, through traditional Ukrainian recipes, to Marxism so that it is a cornucopia of treasure for all readers. A Ukrainian Christmas educates, explores and entertains.
Aside from the eclectic and fascinating topics, what makes A Ukrainian Christmas so fabulous is the range of beautiful illustrations. Some are more simple, some totally sumptuous but all add quality and value to the writing. I loved the fact that there are proper biographies of the illustrators as well as the authors in the back of the book too. The physical attributes of the book; its size, the robust cover with gold lettering and so on, lend it an excellence that enhances the contents still further.
I think reading A Ukrainian Christmas ensures the reader remembers the true value of home and family. It celebrates hope and joy even in the darkest of times. Hugely affecting, interesting and compelling with a visual and literary beauty, A Ukrainian Christmas would make a wonderful gift. I thought it was excellent.
About Yaroslav Hrytsak
Yaroslav Hrytsak is a Ukrainian historian and public intellectual. Professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University and Honorary Professor of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Professor Hrytsak has taught at Columbia and Harvard Universities and was a guest lecturer at the Central European University in Budapest. He is the author of many historical books, including several bestsellers and the recipient of numerous national and international awards and has written opinion pieces for many publications including The Times, the New York Times and Time Magazine.
About Nadiyka Gerbish
Nadiyka Gerbish is a Ukrainian writer, podcaster, and Riggins Rights Management European rights director. She has written nineteen books, many of which have become bestsellers and have won numerous awards. A number of Nadiyka’s children’s books are studied in schools in Ukraine and have been published in braille and audiobook.