- Title: Elderly Belarus woman spends Christmas Eve alone in shrinking village
- Date: 25th December 2019
- Summary: ZHYKS LOOKING AT PHOTO ALBUM
- Embargoed: 8th January 2020 11:39
- Keywords: CIS Christmas Eve celebration lonely traditional celebration village life
- Location: HRODNA REGION, BELARUS
- City: HRODNA REGION, BELARUS
- Country: Belarus
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA005BBH4JEH
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Seventy-nine year-old Valentina Zhykh celebrated Christmas Eve on Tuesday (December 24) alone this year in her home village of Danilovichi.
A practicing Catholic, decorating the house for Christmas is still an important ritual for Zhykh.
When her husband was alive the couple used to have a Christmas tree every year. Now, she collects a few pine branches and puts them in a vase with water.
Danilovichi is among the villages in Belarus where the population is in decline as people move away to larger towns and cities.
Only one in five of the village's 250 houses is inhabited, and most of Zhykh's neighbours are also elderly.
Her children, now grandparents themselves, are celebrating the holidays at home with their own families.
Looking at photo albums helps to pass the time on winter nights, Zhykh said.
Although she is alone this Christmas, Zhykh said her daughter and son and their families still live nearby and often come to help her around the house.
Apart from her relatives, there are also a few other Catholics in the local area with whom Zhykh can meet to talk and sing songs.
(Production: Vasiliy Fedosenko, Dmitry Turlyun)
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