St Nicholas arrives for the Ukrainian children of Salisbury

18 December 2023

Members of the Ukrainian Hub, supported by Salisbury Methodist Church, have organised their first St Nicholas Day in Salisbury. They provided children with a traditional St Nicholas experience keeping Ukraine’s culture alive for those children who arrived in the town following their country’s invasion. 

More than thirty young people were playing impatiently under the watchful gaze of their families and the organisers. They knew St Nicholas was coming but the wait was excruciating. A Christmas tree, holly, Christmas baubles and fairy lights gave  St Martin’s Church Centre, a Catholic space where the event was hosted, a festive feel. 

“We tried to do something for our fellow Ukrainian’s as we are missing our traditions. We wanted to give our kids a miracle for them to be happy,” said Oksana, one of the 15 organisers behind the event. 

The anticipation reached its peak when the announcement was made of St Nicholas’s imminent arrival. Silence fell in the room. And finally, he entered with his traditional cream, white and golden outfit along with Patronus the dog and two angels as his assistants. 

“The angels symbolised the volunteers who came down to earth to help St. Nicholas and Patronus the dog is a reference to the Ukrainian bomb-detecting dog, our mascot. He helped detect more than 90 explosive devices planted by Russian forces. It is important for us to be close to Ukraine because our hearts remain there,” added Oksana. 

St Nicholas gave the Ukrainian salute “Slava Ukraini,” and everyone in the room repeated it. St Nicholas and his assistants talked with the children and they started their work of good deeds including dancing, clapping, stomping and playing snowballs. Afterwards, they made cards for the Ukrainian soldiers and decorated delicious Christmas biscuits – eating them very soon after! The celebration ended with an enthusiastic dance led by Patronus the Dog.  


“We recreated the St Nicholas event as we would do in Ukraine. In where children believe that St Nicholas not only puts gifts under the pillow, but also performs real miracles!  

“Next year we want to offer more events for the Ukrainian community and we are hoping to have a St Nicholas event in both Ukrainian and English,” explained Oksana. 

Before they went home, the families took pictures with St Nicholas, his two angels, and Patronus the Dog creating a lasting memory of an eventful day. The children and young people went back home tired, but full of joy and laughter. 

“We thank all the British people, the residents of Salisbury and Wiltshire, our sponsors, the Ukrainian Hub and the entire community of the Methodist Church, the Mayor of the city and the entire City Council, the community of St Martin's Church and all the caring people who came to help Ukrainians in the struggle for independence,” concluded Oksana.