National Museum of Toys Presents Its New Year’s Exhibition in Kyiv
Kyiv, January 13, 2012. The National Museum of Toys opens an exhibit of over 15 thousand artifacts as well as an exhibition dedicated to the ways to celebrate the New Year. The new exhibition offers the visitors a unique chance to go through Ukraine’s cultural history. Some of the displayed toys are over a hundred years old.
The museum of toys opened just seven years ago but has already established a tradition to hold an annual exhibition of New Year toys from all around the world. This year’s exhibition is named When the Christmas Tree Smelled Like a Tangerine. “Back in the Soviet Union era, tangerines were a fruit that was hard to come by, so every child wanted to see them on a Christmas tree,” commented the title of the show museum’s expert, Olena Dovgalenko.
The new display features various toys created at different times of Ukrainian history. For example, during the Soviet era Mykyta Khrushchev, First Secretary of The Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1953 to 1964, made corn an agricultural priority for the Union. Interestingly, this was reflected in the Christmas tree toys as well. One can see samples of such decorations at the ongoing exhibition at the National Museum of Toys. In 1961 the first Soviet astronaut went on a journey into outer space, which also influenced the design in the toys.
Back in the day, Ukrainians celebrated the New Year in September. The tradition later shifted to the celebration in January. Instead of a Christmas tree, Ukrainians decorated a didukh (a sheaf of wheat that symbolizes the spirit of family’s ancestors) Ukrainian traditions stipulate decorating a Christmas tree with apples, cookies, and toys made of hay. “However, one year apple harvest was bad, and people substituted the apples with things of similar shape. This is how modern Christmas tree decorations are said to have appeared,” explained Olena Dovgalenko.
As dangerous as it may sound, before the emergence of today’s modern electric Christmas lights, a Christmas tree was usually decorated with real wax candles, lit for the night. Eventually this practice was banned due to reoccurring safety issues and the emergence of modern day safe electric lights.
The National Museum of Toys opened on January 1, 2005. Its first exhibit featured a collection of 15,000 pieces, some of them made as early as the first half of XIX century. The museum halls host exhibitions that include samples of everything that Ukrainian toy industry produced for the last 80 years.