Ukrainian refugees open Christmas market in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia
With the support of Unicef, refugees from Ukraine have opened a Christmas market in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, presenting their cuisine, crafts and traditions during the holidays.
The Christmas market is open from December 19 until the end of December, a media statement said.
More than 20 small Ukrainian companies and entrepreneurs, as well as Ukrainian chefs, bakers and artisans, are taking part.
Traditional dishes and handmade souvenirs are on sale in two Christmas houses of the Ukrainian refugee community in Christmas Park in Sofia’s Slaveikov Square.
Unicef is supporting their participation in the bazaar as part of the “Christmas is possible for every child” campaign.
The campaign aims to give a voice to Ukrainian families who have found refuge in Bulgaria and to promote their integration and solidarity in Bulgarian society.
“After almost 10 months away from their country, Ukrainian families are doing their best to integrate into their host communities by learning Bulgarian, enrolling their children in school, looking for work or starting a small business,” Unicef representative in Bulgaria Christina de Bruin said.
“Thanks to the warm welcome and support in Bulgaria, refugee children can celebrate Christmas in peace here, while our thoughts are with all the children who live in war-torn places,” De Bruin said.
“As a sign of gratitude for this hospitality, Ukrainian refugees are motivated to show their appreciation to Bulgarians through their food and culture,” she added.
Visitors to the bazaar can try various Ukrainian delicacies such as varenyky with different fillings,Syrniki (pancakes with cream), borsch with pampushki (garlic cakes), Carpathian tea and Lviv cheesecake.
Guests will also be offered traditional Christmas sweets that Ukrainian mothers and grandmothers prepare during the holidays for their children and grandchildren.
Visitors will also be able to buy jewellery and toys handmade by Ukrainian refugee women, as well as bags with traditional ornaments, candles, decoration, home accessories and more.
Ukrainian stalls will also attract people looking for special decorations for their Christmas trees and gifts, such as beaded jewellery made by 11-year-old Kateryna from the Donetsk region.
“In Ukraine, I had many hobbies, I was involved in sports and music. Now all that’s left for me is making rings, bracelets and earrings from colorful beads, which helps me break away from negative thoughts. I used to make gifts for myself and my friends on special occasions. I have a lot of ideas and I want other people to have these jewels to put them in a festive mood,” said Kateryna, who fled the war from the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine in April and now attends school in Harmanli.
In addition to shopping, bazaar visitors will also be able to make a donation to charities supporting Ukrainian refugee children in Bulgaria, who have made toys to decorate two Christmas trees at the bazaar.
Ukrainian children will also participate in the Christmas celebrations, who will sing traditional Ukrainian and Bulgarian songs.
Since the beginning of the war, Unicef has worked with the government, local authorities and other partners in Bulgaria to support refugee children from Ukraine and their parents and improve their access to education, protection and health care.
With winter temperatures getting colder, Unicef is increasing its support programs for the most vulnerable children, including refugee children, by supplying warm clothes, blankets, education and hygiene materials through partner organizations in the country.
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