UNF Christmas Market Review

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A drawing of a Christmas celebration at a snowy village. There are fireworks, a giant Santa statue, and a very large Christmas tree in the town square which is partially hidden by a house. People are headed to the town square.
Holiday shopping can be as carefree as this photo, only at Christmas markets. ninikvaratskhelia_ via Pixabay

A look at the Christmas market held by the Ukrainian National Federation

On November 4, I had the honour of visiting the Ukrainian National Federation Regina Christmas Market at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall on St. John Street in Regina. 

To start, the energy in the space was like nothing I had ever experienced before. My family background is overwhelmingly British and we weren’t the type to celebrate our British heritage or culture, so I really had no strong ties to any culture.  

This was the opposite. They knew who they were, where they were from, and this felt like a small celebration of that in a way, even in just a Christmas market. People were talking to each other like they had known each other all their lives, and maybe they did. But even for me, as someone who had never been there before, walking in felt like a warm hug. 

The building itself is beautiful and easily distinguishable. As I walked up the street to the Federation Hall, I knew where it was as soon as I saw it. I didn’t need to see the UNF letters above the door, I just knew (which is a big deal for me, considering I’ll get lost trying to go down the block). It felt like a beacon of something comforting in the neighbourhood, like the north star in the night sky. There was a sign on the door and outside to let me know that I was in the right place for the market. 

One thing that they advertised was food, and there was food, but it sold out fast. The market opened at 10 a.m., I arrived around 10:20 a.m., and half of their food stock was already sold out. I wasn’t sure if they were going to get more food vendors later in the day, but I walked out with a pound of pelmeni with pork, a food I had never heard of, but the vendor described it to me as being similar to a dumpling. In the Ukraine, store-bought pelmeni is the equivalent of ramen for university students (fitting), but homemade is healthier and heartier. They are usually boiled, but they can also be fried and the filling is not pre-cooked. 

The main area of the market was kind of like a craft fair, or at least that’s the closest equivalent I can think of. There were hand-made goods like spice blends, soaps, woodburnings, and sewing. They advertised it as “Many vendors to come and see. Get your Christmas shopping done in all one place,” on their Facebook event, which was accurate. There were lots of things that I saw that I thought people in my life would enjoy and the array of different items was great. I walked out with a tiny 3-D printed triceratops who is now my best friend and lives on my desk. It’s meant to be used as a fidget toy, but I think it’s too cute for that and it should just be on display. 

One of the most important things about small Christmas markets like this one is that they’re local and, when you go, you’re supporting local. The money you spend doesn’t go back into a corporation, it goes to people in your community. It goes to support families who need it. It goes to people who want to continue working on their craft so they can sell more, or just people trying to put dinner on the table like all of us. 

The Ukrainian National Federation of Canada Regina Branch is an incredible place. A beautiful building with people giving back to their community. They run events throughout the year about food making (like the pelmeni that I bought), but also perogies and cabbage rolls. The people there are kind and excited to see you. 

I wish them all the best with future Christmas markets since this was their first, and I hope this one was a huge success. 

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