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In the eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas Day is marked on 7 January. accounting

Ukrainian refugees celebrate Orthodox Christmas

A support group for Ukrainian refugees based in Sussex is helping families come together to celebrate their traditional Christmas.

In the eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas Day is marked on 7 January, in accordance with the Julian calendar.

Christmas Eve is celebrated on 6 January, usually with a large meal involving 12 dishes.

For many refugees, this is their first Christmas away from their homeland since the Russian invasion.

Shoreham-by-Sea Baptist Church offered its premises for the event, organised by Adur Ukraine Support Association.

Olesia Sydorenko and her sons will spend this Orthodox Christmas in Sussex while the rest of her family remain in Ukraine.

"Of course it's very, very sad to celebrate now and to understand that your relatives, your friends, stay there without electricity, without heating, without water," she said.

Celebrations will include a repertoire of carols from the 'Ukrainian Nightingales' choir, a competition for children to recite famous poems by Ukrainian authors and music from the Carpathian mountains region.

Yuliia Zhulieva came to the UK in October. She said Ukrainian Christmases are all about "food" and "family".

Irina Tyzhkarob prepared traditional dishes such as borscht - beetroot soup - served with pampushki, also known as Baltic buns.

She said: "For Ukranians our food is the most important today, and usually we serve 12 special dishes.

"We have special Ukrainian desert with pumpkins and apples

"Today is our first Christmas not in Ukraine so we try to make it the best as we can.".

Robin Sadler, chair of the Adur Ukraine Support Association, said the group aims to aid and improve the physical and mental wellbeing of those who have fled Ukraine.

"We have set our aims as supporting their wellbeing" he said, "their physical wellbeing and their mental wellbeing.

"What we want out of it at the end of the day is smiles."

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