Ukrainian refugees join festive winter celebrations in Sofia

UNICEF supports the initiative refugees as part of its seasonal campaign ‘Christmas is possible for every child’

19 December 2022
Хора купуват традиционна украинска храна на коледен базар в София
UNICEF Bulgaria/2022

SOFIA, 19 January 2022. Refugees from Ukraine are preparing to present their cuisine, crafts and traditions to locals and visitors at the upcoming winter Christmas market in Sofia, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

Over 20 small Ukrainian companies and entrepreneurs, as well as Ukrainian cooks, bakers and сraft-makers, will bring their products to the market in Bulgaria’s capital for two weeks starting from 19 December. Traditional food and handcrafts will be on sale in two Christmas houses, managed by the Ukrainian refugee community at Christmas Park at Slaveykov Square in downtown Sofia.

UNICEF is supporting the participation of Ukrainian refugees as part of its seasonal campaign ‘Christmas is possible For Every Child’. The campaign, which is implemented with the support of the United States Government, aims to give a voice to Ukrainian families who have found refuge in Bulgaria, and to further promote their integration and solidarity in local society. 

After nearly ten months of displacement, Ukrainian families are doing their best to integrate in their host communities by learning Bulgarian, enrolling children in schools, looking for jobs or opening their small businesses

says UNICEF Bulgaria Representative Christina de Bruin.

Thanks to the warm welcome and support in Bulgaria, refugee children can celebrate their Christmas in peace here while our thoughts go out these days to all children living in war-torn societies. Being grateful for this hospitality, Ukrainians are motivated to show their gratitude to Bulgarians through their food and culture.

Коледен базар в участието на украински бежанци в София
UNICEF Bulgaria/2022

From 19 December until the end of the month, shoppers can taste various Ukrainian delights such as varenyky (dumplings with sweet and sour filings), syrnyky (cottage cheese pancakes) and borsch (traditional tomato and cabbage soup) with pampushka (garlic bun), as well as Carpathian herbal tea and Lviv cheesecake. Guests will also be offered a selection of traditional Christmas bakes and sweets, which Ukrainians cook for their children and grandchildren during the holiday season.

In addition, market visitors will be able to purchase handmade jewelry and toys produced by Ukrainian refugee women, as well as bags with traditional ornaments, candles, small interior items and home accessories. 

The market’s Ukrainian stalls will be of interest to people looking for special decorations for their Christmas trees, last minute holiday gifts and souvenirs such as the beaded jewelry produced by 11-year-old Kateryna from the Donetsk region.

Back in Ukraine, I had many hobbies, sport and musical classes

says Kateryna, who fled the war in eastern Ukraine in April and now studies in Harmanli.

But now making rings, bracelets and earrings from colorful beads is the only thing left, and it helps me to get away from negative thoughts. I used to create gifts for myself and my friends for special occasions. I have many ideas and I want other people to have these tiny items as they give you a bit of holiday spirit.

Украински ястия на коледен базар в София
UNICEF Bulgaria/2022

As well as shopping, visitors will be able to make a donation to the charity organizations supporting Ukrainian refugee children in Bulgaria, which have produced toys to decorate two Christmas trees at the market. The Christmas festival will also feature performances from Ukrainian children singing traditional Ukrainian and Bulgarian carols.

Since the beginning of the war, UNICEF has been working with the government, local authorities and other partners in Bulgaria to support Ukrainian refugee children and their parents to improve access to education, protection and healthcare systems. As temperatures continue to plummet and winter bites, UNICEF is scaling up its assistance programmes for the most vulnerable children, including refugee children, by distributing warm clothes, blankets, educational materials and hygiene kits through its partner organizations across the country.

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40


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