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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, January 7, 2010, 9:00 AM ET

    Caroling at Rockefeller Center on Ukrainian Christmas

    image Ukrainian carolers (koliadnyky) gather at the foot of the big tree in Rock Center. Photo:, 2005

    New York, NY — Today is Christmas Day for those who observe according to the "old" calendar — Khrystos Narodyvsia!. Several inquiries came in to Brama News from readers the last few days asking about the annual Ukrainian Christmas caroling under the big tree in New York’s Rockefeller Center. This new "tradition," which began just a few years ago (we think by a group of recent immigrants), has become almost de rigueur as part of the Christmas, or Rizdvo, celebration for Ukrainians living in the New York area.

    Slideshows of carolers at Rock Center

    Learn more about
    Ukrainian Christmas.

    It is the custom throughout Ukraine to sing koliady (Ukrainian carols) starting on Christmas Day. This differs from the Western tradition in that caroling begins well before Christmas, and ends on the 25th of December. Eastern Rite Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox) celebrate Christmas on January 7, so Ukrainians are just now getting their singing voices in tune for the weeks ahead. And today is the day to kick off the season at Rockefeller Center.

    Checking online, however, we discovered that the Rockefeller Center Christmas was to be taken down this year on Thursday, January 7 — right on Christmas Day — and we called to find out why. Over the phone, we were assured that in fact the tree would remain lit throughout the day on Thursday, and would not be turned off or taken down before Friday morning.

    Nevertheless, the official website as well as indicate, or did at the time of this writing, that the tree would be taken down on the 7th of January. Hanya Krill, an active member of the Ukrainian community, left a voice mail at the offices of Rubenstein Communications, the Rockefeller Center p.r. firm, asking that the website be updated, and that a record be kept for the future to respect the Eastern rite observation of Christmas on January 7 by not taking the tree down until at least the 8th. Ms. Krill later received a call from Ms. Iva Benson of Rubenstein Communications, who assured her once again that the tree will remain lit through Thursday night, and that it would not be dismantled before the 8th. Ms. Benson also said that she would try and make it a policy to keep the tree up longer in the future.

    So, there you have it, folks. The Rock Center Christmas tree is waiting for all you carolers — get out there this afternoon/evening and sing your hearts out. May we suggest that you start gathering at 5:30 p.m. tonight? After all, it’s a working day for most of us.

    A nice turnout would demonstrate to Rockefeller Center management and public relations departments that Ukrainians appreciate their efforts. Maybe next year, they'll consider having the tree stay lit through the Ukrainian New Year on January 14. Hey — you never know.

    Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

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