It took Maidan about half an hour to fill up yesterday: when I was leaving after a walk through the tent city, there were maybe just a few hundred people, most of them standing by the stage; when my mama got there around 5 pm, there was already a huge crowd.
I returned to Maidan around 7 pm and the square looked and sounded exactly the way it did two weeks ago and before that: filled with people (around 80,000), various flags in the area next to the stage (Ukrainian national, orange, banned Belarusian, new Georgian, Polish), lots of light, lots of music, bursts of Yushchenko! Yushchenko! chant.
What made yesterday's Maidan different from its predecessor was a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the square. When I was there in the early afternoon yesterday, they were still decorating it, using a high-rise construction truck - but they were done when the people gathered for the rally. The tree was dark, though - I wonder if they're gonna light it up at some point.
I got too cold standing outside and listening to Yushchenko speak, so we ended up at the bar again. The place used to be totally filled up at the peak of the revolution, with no room to stand on some days. Then they got about two weeks of relative rest, up until yesterday. This bar is located deep in one of the backyards just off Khreshchatyk - it's difficult to find it the first time and nearly impossible to stumble upon it; it is also tiny so you get to know the regulars, their faces if not names. But last night, it was full of people I'd never seen before, speaking English, and what a friend told me was the Québec French, and maybe something else, too, and we figured they must have all come to Kyiv to observe the election.
It makes Kyiv look like the summer St. Pete - foreigners everywhere. Only here these people aren't tourists but have come to help. Nice. (I actually love St. Pete's touristy crowds - without them, the city is less alive.)
When we got outside, I realized I was so happy Maidan was back - all the commotion, all the people, happy and friendly, oblivious to the cold, all the noise, and the music - all of it is back! My friend said this was one of the things Yulia Tymoshenko spoke about yesterday, too - You must've all missed Maidan, didn't really know where to go to after work these past two weeks, etc. I myself have moments when I wish I could spend the New Year's at Maidan, not in Istanbul - but I always end up longing for Istanbul again and hoping that they're not gonna declare emergency state after the election, thus spoiling the holiday for everyone...