The New Year’s hopes and surprises: what Ukrainians feel and think about while celebrating the New Year

Opinion polls
Views: 268
29 December 2020

This nationwide survey was conducted jointly by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) on December 5-14, 2020 in all regions of Ukraine excluding Crimea and the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The survey was conducted using the face-to-face interview method. During the research, 2,004 respondents were interviewed in 131 settlements of Ukraine. The sample size is representative of the adult population (people aged 18 and over) of Ukraine. The statistical sample error (with a probability of 0.95 and design effect of 1.5) does not exceed 3.3%.

For comparison, survey data was used from the previous polls which were conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and sociological services of Razumkov Center.

Financial assistance for the conducted survey was provided by the MATRA project of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

  • 81% of Ukrainians plan to celebrate the new year of 2021 at home with their family. Meanwhile, every tenth person (9%) hopes to celebrate the New Year visiting friends or relatives. Compared to 2018 and 2019, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is markedly noticeable: the number of respondents who intend to spend the New Year with family members grew by 14%, and the share of those who will visit as guests shrunk by half. Concurrently, every fifth young person (or 23% of those polled aged 18-29 years) plans to celebrate the New Year in a company of others. Among those polled aged 60 and over, 7% will spend the New Year eve watching television, and 6% do not plan to celebrate. Moreover, among men there are more (12.5%) who will not celebrate than among women (6%). Overall, the desire to celebrate the New Year in a public setting or premises nearly vanished among those who were surveyed.  
  • In the New Year’s contest for the right to give Ukrainians New Year’s presents, Father Frost and St. Nicholas received the same amount of votes (11% each) and ceded to the loved ones (35%). The proportion of respondents for whom it does not make a difference who presents a gift practically has not changed (27%). And for the first time in four years, the number of those who do not wish to receive presents fell to 11%. In the regional context, Father Frost is awaited in the eastern regions, and the western regions look forward to the presents from St. Nicholas.
  • Although in the last four years Ukrainians have not changed their New Year preferences, the desire to have good health as a gift (71.5%) significantly outstripped aspirations for “peace in the country” (39.5%) and having a harmonious family and understanding of loved ones (22%). Another outcome of the pandemic and economic decline is that this time the desire to receive money as a gift (22%) practically is equal to having good relations in the family. Also the desire to find a good job in the new year has grown to 18%. In the new year, parents would like to see their children become successful (14%). Every tenth person polled (10.5%) wishes to have a long life. Closing the top ten most desirable gifts were interesting trips (8%), love (8%), medicine (vaccines) against the coronavirus, which are ahead of winning the lottery (3%). Women more often than men say good health is the best gift (76% and 66%, respectively). The youth, regardless of sex, more often wish for a good job and love (29% and 16% of those polled aged 18–29 year, respectively). Mature respondents would not refuse having money and a harmonious family (28% and 26% of those polled aged 30-44, respectively). And for older people, having good health and successful children are important (83.5% and 20% of those polled aged 60 years and over, respectively).
  • The average amount that Ukrainians are ready to spend for their New Year celebration is 1,440 UAH (or $50.60 based on the central bank’s currency rate in December 2020). Last year it was 1,390 UAH, but this year’s New Year budget was actually less if it is converted into hard currency ($59.70 based on the central bank’s currency rate in December 2019). In 2018, it was 1,752 UAH ($62.80 based on the central bank’s currency rate in December 2018). Meanwhile, the share of those polled who said they cannot afford to pay for a celebration decreased to 16%. In previous years, this share was 23%.
  • Despite the economic turmoil and coronavirus pandemic, a majority of Ukrainians still felt happy in 2020: 8.5% were very happy and 45.5% were mostly happy. This is still the lowest level of happiness compared to the years 2017-2019. However, this year the biggest portion of respondents was recorded who feel mostly unhappy (29%) and completely unhappy (9%).
  • Toward the end of 2020, the most widespread feelings of Ukrainians when thinking about the future of the country are hope (43%), optimism (31%) and anxiety (28%). In addition to that, a comparison of survey results from the previous years affirms that the pandemic and economic crisis affected thoughts about the future. In particular, the share of respondents who expressed hope, decreased to 43%. This is less than 2017-2019, but is higher than in 2015. The level of optimism dropped to 2017-2018 levels. And there were fewer citizens who felt joy – 4%, but it is higher than toward the end of 2015. Confidence among respondents stood at 8%. This is markedly less than the previous year and this indicator sunk to the 2015 level. On the contrary, the feeling of being in a hard spot doubled: now 14% feel this way whereas a year earlier there were only 6% of respondents. The number of Ukrainians who feel confused also grew: now they are 18%. We recorded the same number of confused respondents in 2015. Pessimism somewhat increased: from 5.5% toward the end of 2019 to 8% in December 2020. Interest somewhat decreased: from 13% to 9%. However, the pandemic hardly affected such feelings as uneasiness (28%), fear (9%), and indifference (4%).
  • Although feelings toward the future of the country have become more reserved, Ukrainians remain optimistic when they think about their personal prospects for the next year. 21% of those polled believe that the new year  will be better for them, and another 62% hope that it will be better than worse. This is basically the same level as in the previous year of 2019.

Long-lived Ukrainian traditions

  • 69% of Ukrainians know traditional Ukrainian carols and New Year songs (shchedrivka): 36% of those polled reported knowing no less than three carols or New year songs, while another 32.5% know at least one carol or New Year song. Another 18% of those polled reported having heard and like listening to carols and New Year songs, but couldn’t remember them. And although 5% reported not knowing them, said they would like to learn them. Only 8% reported no interest in traditional carols and New Year songs. Less than 1% didn’t answer the question. Admiration for and knowledge of Ukrainian ritual New Year and Christmas songs unites the residents of all regions of Ukraine.
  • When we asked our fellow Ukrainians who among Ukrainian performs or bands would best sing a “Shchedryk” (New Year song known in the West as “Carol of Bells”), we received the following responses: Tina Karol and Dzidzyo took first place with a nearly identical result – 19%. In second place came Oleksandr Ponomariov (10.5%). In third place came three different singers: Dzhamala, Nastya Kamenskykh and Olia Poliakova (with 8% each).

Merry Politics

  • If citizens had a choice of whose greeting to watch during this New Year’s Eve, most (54%) would still choose the public address of the Ukrainian president. Meanwhile, 10% would like to hear kind words from a leader whom they trust, and also 10% would like to hear a greeting from their favorite artist. It is interesting that a greeting from the chief sanitary doctor (2%) is more popular than the greeting of the president of the aggressor state of Russia (1.5%). 16% would not like to see any greeting whatsoever.
  • Right before Christmas we called to memory two stories, one old and one new, and decided to ask the opinion of fellow citizens with whom they associate the two popular images. Thus, in the “Christmas Story” by Charles Dickens, the heartless rich-miser Scrooge earnestly repented his behavior and started a new life on Christmas Day by helping the poor. Responding to the question of “Who of the richest Ukrainians named below could on Christmas Day improve for the better?”, 39% of those polled said no one, and 24% hesitated to give a response. Other opinions about the ability of the rich to do good at Christmas were divided: 19% of respondents named Rinat Akhmetov, 13% – Petro Poroshenko, 9.5% – Ihor Kolomoisky, 8.5% – Viktor Medvedchuk, 4% – Viktor Pinchuk. The rest of the richest among our fellow citizens most likely are not familiar to respondents.
  • Next, answering the question of “Who among foreign leaders most closely resembles the role of Grinch who Stole Christmas this year?”, 28% of those polled named Vladimir Putin, 8% – Donald Trump, 7% – Oleksandr Lukashenka, 6% – George Soros and nearly 3% – Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping. 14% said that no one among those mentioned can be called the Grinch, and 29% – hesitated to respond. It’s interesting that Putin was named first in the role of the “Grinch who stole Christmas” in every region of Ukraine except for in the east: there, first place was shared by Donald Trump and George Soros.

Survey Results

1. How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Choose only one response (% among all respondents).

Response options

2018

2019

2020

At home, with my family

64,5

67,0

81,4

As a guest with friends or relatives

17,5

16,5

8,8

In a public setting or premises

3,7

2,6

0,1

In an online Internet group

1,1

0,5

0,5

On trip elsewhere in Ukraine

1,0

0,6

0,4

On a foreign trip

0,5

0,6

0,3

Alone watching television

1,4

2,1

3,0

At work

-

-

1,6

Other

0,5

0,4

0,0

I won’t celebrate at all and fall asleep

4,5

3,4

2,1

Still have not decided

5,0

6,3

1,5

No response

0,2

-

-

2. From whom would you like to receive a New Year’s gift? Choose only one response (% among all respondents).

Response options

2017

2018

2019

2020

Father Frost

27,5

27,9

28,3

11,1

Saint Nicholas

14,3

12,1

16,9

11,1

Santa Claus

2,0

3,5

1,3

0,8

From my loved one

-

-

-

35,0

Makes no difference

22,5

33,4

30,5

27,0

No one among those named

28,6

17,6

19,7

11,4

Difficult to say

5,1

5,4

3,2

3,5

3. What kind of specific New Year’s gift would you like to receive from life / fate? Choose up to 3 responses (% among all respondents).

Response options

2017

2018

2019

2020

Health

56,7

52,6

48,6

71,5

Peace in the country

50,7

43,6

39,8

39,5

Harmonious family, understanding from close ones

39,3

37,3

28,7

22,4

Money

25,8

25,4

24,0

22,4

Good job

19,7

15,2

16,3

17,9

Success for my children

16,7

18,5

12,3

14,4

Long life

-

-

-

10,5

Interesting trips

8,6

8,8

8,7

7,9

Love

10,1

12,4

9,2

7,7

Medicine (vaccine) against the coronavirus

-

-

-

4,6

Win the lottery

6,0

5,3

4,4

3,1

More recreation time

5,3

5,3

3,7

2,9

New friends

3,4

2,8

1,8

2,2

Birth of a child

2,4

2,2

1,9

1,8

Fame, success, notability

2,6

2,3

1,5

1,4

Other

1,2

0,5

0,9

1,2

I do not expect any gifts

4,6

7,0

1,1

1,9

Difficult to say

0,7

2,0

1,9

1,4

4. Overall, when summarizing the year 2020, would you say were happy this year? Choose only one response (% among all respondents).

Response options

2017

2018

2019

2020

Yes, very happy

6,5

12,0

11,9

8,5

Mostly happy

52,1

47,6

49,2

45,5

Mostly unhappy

22,7

21,2

21,2

28,8

Not at all happy

8,6

5,4

5,4

9,0

Difficult to say

10,1

13,8

12,3

8,2

5. What feelings are evoked when you think of the future of Ukraine? (more than one response is possible) (% among all respondents).

Response options

2015

2017

2018

2019

2020

Optimism

19

31,1

28,1

37,9

31,2

Indifference

3

4,4

3,6

3,2

4,3

Joy

1

5,5

5,0

6,6

4,2

Hopelessness

17

9,7

8,6

5,9

13,6

Confidence

5

11,9

11,8

18,2

7,6

Confusion

18

17,4

14,1

12,6

18,4

Satisfaction

1

2,2

2,2

2,9

1,6

Pessimism

9

6,0

5,3

5,5

8,2

Hope

39

51,0

51,8

55,8

43,1

Anxiety

39

28,2

32,7

25,8

27,7

Interest

5

12,2

9,3

12,6

9,0

Fear

15

11,5

8,3

7,8

8,6

Other

1

1,2

1,6

1,1

0,7

Difficult to say

1

4,6

4,8

4,3

3,2

6. In your opinion, will the next year be better than this one, or not? Choose only one response (% among all respondents).

Response options

2017

2018

2019

2020

Yes, it will surely be better

21,1

22,8

21,4

20,8

I hope it will be better than it will be worse

58,4

55,1

60,6

61,5

I foresee it will be more worse

8,4

10,0

8,3

9,8

It will surely be worse

2,0

1,4

1,1

1,4

Difficult to say

10,1

10,7

8,6

6,5

7. Do you know traditional Ukrainian carols and New Year songs? (% among all respondents)

Yes, I know no less than three carols or New Year songs

36,1

Yes, I know at least one carol or New Year song

32,5

I heard and like to listen to them, but I cannot remember them

18,1

I do not know, but I would like to learn

4,8

I do not and have no interest in them

8,2

Refuse to answer

0,4

8. Do you know traditional Ukrainian carols and New Year songs? (% among all respondents)

 

West

Center

South

East

Yes, I know no less than three carols or New Year songs

69,9

29,2

7,5

22,5

Yes, I know at least one carol or New Year song

23,6

36,3

40,8

33,1

I heard and like to listen to them, but I cannot remember them

5,3

19,6

26,7

25,6

I do not know, but I would like to learn

0,2

6,9

8,8

5,1

I do not and have no interest in them

0,9

7,5

15,8

13,3

Refuse to answer

0,2

0,6

0,4

0,4

9. Who, in your opinion, among Ukrainian performers/bands would best sing “Shchedryk” (New Year’s song? Choose up to three responses. (% among all respondents)

 

 

Alyona-Alyona

1,9

Antytila

3,0

BEZ OBMEZHEN

3,4

Boombox

2,5

Dzhamala

8,0

Dzidzyo

19,2

KAZKA

6,0

Nadiya Dorofeyeva

2,8

Nastya Kamenskykh

8,0

Okean Elzy/Svyatoslav Vakarchuk

6,9

Oleksandr Ponomorayov

10,5

Pavlo Zibrov

6,2

Olya Polyakova

8,1

Tina Karol

19,5

TNMK

0,5

HARDKISS/Yuliya Sanina

2,4

Jerry Heil

0,4

MELOVIN

0,7

I myself sing better

4,2

Other

3,2

Nobody among those named

4,5

I don’t listen to Ukrainian artists

7,6

Difficult to say

17,6

10. Whose greeting would you like to hear several minutes before the New Year? Choose only one response.

(% among all respondents)

Ukrainian president’s greeting

53,8

Russian president’s greeting

1,5

U.S. president’s greeting

0,2

A greeting by a leader whom I trust

9,6

Chief sanitary doctor’s greeting

2,1

A greeting by my favorite artist/singer

9,7

Other

2,6

None of the above

16,2

Difficult to say

4,2

11. In the “Christmas Story” by Charles Dickens, the heartless rich-miser Scrooge earnestly repented for his behavior and started to on Christmas Day building new life and helping his close ones. In your opinion, who among the richest Ukrainians named below could improve for the better at Christmas? More than one response is possible.  (% among all respondents)

Rinat Akhmetov

19,1

Oleh Bakhmatiuk

1,2

Hennadiy Butkevych

0,9

Andriy Verevskyi

0,9

Oleksandr and Halyna Hereha

1,4

Kostyantyn Zhevaho

1,3

Ihor Kolomoiskyi

9,5

Yuriy Kosiuk

0,8

Viktor Medvedchuk

8,5

Vadym Novynskyi

1,3

Viktor Pinchuk

4,0

Petro Poroshenko

13,3

Hryhoriy Surkis

2,3

Serhiy Tihipko

2,6

Dmytro Firtash

2,5

Valeriy Khoroshkovskyi

1,2

Oleksandr Yaroslavskyi

1,3

None of the above

39,2

Difficult to say

23,8

12. In your opinion, who among foreign leaders would best fit the role of the Grinch who stole Christmas this year? Choose only one response. (% among all respondents)

 

 

Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea

2,7

Oleksandr Lukashenko, self-proclaimed president of Belarus

7,1

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia

28,1

Donald Trump, president of the U.S.A.

8,3

Xi Jinping, leader of China

3,5

George Soros, head of the Open Society Foundation

6,3

Other

0,1

None of the aforementioned

14,4

Difficult to say

29,3

 

13. In your opinion, who among foreign leaders would best fit the role of the Grinch who stole Christmas this year? Choose only one response. (% among all respondents)

 

West

Center

South

East

Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea

2

2,3

5,8

2,7

Oleksandr Lukashenko, self-proclaimed president of Belarus

10,7

5,7

5,8

5,9

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia

41,8

32,0

17,1

13,8

Donald Trump, president of the U.S.A.

4,7

6,1

10,4

13,4

Xi Jinping, leader of China

3,1

3,2

5,4

3,4

George Soros, head of the Open Society Foundation

1,5

5,9

3,3

13,8

Other

0

0,3

0

0

None of the aforementioned

10,5

10,8

24,2

18,6

Difficult to say

25,7

33,6

27,9

28,2