We happened to be in Kiev right on St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 19th) which we didn't even know about until we passed Independence Square and saw a concert going on and kids everywhere. On St. Nicholas day, parents and relatives put candy, toys and other treats under kids' pillows. But only if they've been good all year. This was also the first day of the winter festivities. It felt just like Christmas. There were over a dozen St. Nick's running around in full getup with beards... and for a small fee you could take a photo with one of them. Across the street from the concert stage and Christmas tree was a small Christmas market with decorated wooden stalls selling treats and gifts. It wasn't as big as some of the ones we saw in previous countries but nonetheless it was a Christmas market.
This hedgehog monument (made out of hundreds of screws, very sharp) is from a popular Ukrainian cartoon, "Hedgehog in the Fog" by Yuri Norshtein. He was so popular that they even put him on a postage stamp in 1988. The short cartoon won quite a bit of awards including the most recent in 2003-- 1st place in Tokyo's "All time animation best 150 in Japan and Worldwide". We posted the video below, if you feel like watching it.
The famous Dnipro River.
Statue of Volodymyr overlooking the Dnipro River.