Ukrainian Children's Letters to St. Nicholas

Saint Nicholas
Artist: Ivan Krysiacz
Used by permission

Bohdan Malyna began the Office of St. Nicholas (Kantseliariya St. Mykolaya) in Lviv, Ukraine, during the mid-90s. The intention was to become an organization that would provide assistance to poor or disadvantaged children. He began collecting the letters sent to St. Nicholas from the central Lviv post office.

Mr. Malyna read each letter and answered each one individually in a special way. The reply was written as a poem, signed in gold, and placed in a special envelope with an original stamp showing St. Nicholas. Each year more and more letters came. Each year they were from a wider area. Soon they were coming from all of Western Ukraine and post offices in other provinces forwarded their St. Nicholas letters to the Lviv, as well. (During the Soviet era, such letters were forbidden and any that were sent were burned.)

From the beginning Mr. Malyna selected some of the most interesting letters—maybe because they were poignant, or humorous, or asking for something for someone else. Each year he compiled a collection and sent them to Ukrainian newspapers. They were were published in the Ukraine, England, France, Canada, and the United States.

Child's drawing
Child's drawing from one of the letters
Used by permission
Saint Nicholas on stamp
Special stamp used on letter replies
Artist: Ivan Krysiacz
Used by permission

The letters, written spontaneously by children and often in secret, express their dreams and hopes. Some ask for toys, of course, but others show concern and compassion for others.

Letters from the years 1996–2006 were collected and printed in a book, illustrated with the original letters and drawings sent by the children. It is the first collection of Ukrainian children's letters to Saint Nicholas. The thousands of letters also provide material for academic study of child psychology, children's language development, ethics and aesthetics, children's subculture and humor.

PDF of an earlier version of the book

In another section

Kids Draw St. Nicholas in Ukraine

Budlalaska: Selected Children's Letters to St. Nicholas compiled by Bohdan Malyna
Duliby, 2007, Kyiv, Ukraine

The book is in Ukrainian

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