All ages joined together for the celebrations.

Christmas of hope in pictures: Ukrainians keep festive spirit alive for first celebration in Rugby

Christmas in Ukraine can be celebrated on December 25 or January 7

Ukrainians in Rugby have just celebrated their first Christmas in the town amid hopes for peace in 2023.

They enjoyed unique traditions of music, singing, dancing as part of their first festive season away from home.

Hundreds gathered at the Paddox Methodist Church in Hillmorton to celebrate the Eastern Orthodox Christmas.

Festivities, on their Christmas Eve (January 6), also included a nativity performance.

Ewa Walton said: “We have brought our unique Christmas traditions closer to many in this foreign land – a powerful reminder of the strength of holding on to your culture and beliefs even as others try to take everything from you.

“The war brought on all of us a very powerful atmosphere of anxiety with Ukrainian soldiers trying time and time again to make progress but at every turn they have met frustrations, disillusionment, military restrictions, preventions, being outnumbered, underequipped to defend their land and freedom of Ukraine and Ukrainian people but the Ukrainian soldiers have never made themselves a victims of the circumstances.”

Visitors also spoke to Ukrainian soldiers fighting the Russian invasion.

Ewa added: “One of the soldiers promised us all that we will be home soon. He also added: ‘I love you all and I will be waiting for your safe return to our free Ukraine’.”

She said they are now looking forward to the future with hope.

“Christmas brings the indestructibility of hope in times of the greatest hopelessness,” Ewa went on.

"As long as we celebrate this holiday, we can neither be defeated nor destroyed.”

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