One year prior, Kyiv’s Sophia Square was decorated with thousands of lights and a large Christmas tree. A more modest tree sits there in these final days of 2022, amid a war that has ravaged the nation for 10 months, its blue and yellow lights barely breaking the darkness of the otherwise dark square save from the headlights of cars.
As the icy winter approaches, Russia has been focusing on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure to cut off their access to electricity and heating. Furthermore, despite the Ukrainian government’s best efforts, it has been virtually impossible to restore electricity to every single individual in the nation, including the more than 3 million citizens of the capital.
There are certain days when the streets of Kyiv’s center are lit, but because of restrictions and plan power outages, the city does not shine as it usually does at Christmastime.
However, despite the grim circumstances, some people have decided to demonstrate their tenacity and save whatever they can for the holidays, such as the Christmas tree, which is still standing tall despite lacking the brightness of prior years.
The erection of the Christmas tree was announce by Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev, who said it would be call the “Tree of Invincibility.”
We made the decision that we wouldn’t allow Russia steal our children’s Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, he said. He continue, “We Ukrainians cannot broken,” which is why I chose the moniker.
On December 19, the same day Russia conduct a drone strike against Kyiv, the “Tree of Invincibility” was officially open. The drone attack damaged a power plant and did not result in a widespread blackout in the city.
There was substantial discussion regarding whether installing the tree was suitable in a year that saw so many tragedies and horrors before Kyiv’s authorities ultimately decided it was. Similar debates took place around the nation, and some regions decided to forgo trees.
But some people now seem to appreciate the initiative.
At the tree’s unveiling on Monday, Oleh Skakun, 56, said, “We are grateful that we can see at least something amid such circumstances.”
He claimed that on December 19, his wife’s birthday, they used to travel nearby to Kherson in the south to admire the Christmas tree. Not this year, since Russian forces have taken over their home on the left side of the Dnieper River, forcing them to escape to Kyiv in August.
Skakun claimed that despite their sadness, they wanted to continue the custom of going to see a Christmas tree.
The 57-year-old Larysa Skakun claimed, “Twenty Russians now reside in my home; they have tormented others and my son.” She cried, “But we came here to cheer up a bit, to see the people, the festivities.
Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine and a target of Russian missile attacks for months, is one of the places that has also decided to put up a Christmas tree.
However, it can be challenging for some Ukrainians to enjoy anything this Christmas.
27-year-old Anna Holovina said she came to Sophia Square to admire the tree but can’t help but think of her homeland in the Luhansk region, which has been under Russian military control since 2014.
“I’m depressed. I’m in pain. I don’t even feel the holiday,” she admitted. “My family is in Kiev, but I’ve been away from my hometown for eight years now.”