Traditional Ukrainian Christmas


It’s Christmas time

In Ukraine, there is no crazy-gift-buying-rush. No super sales and door busters. There is hardly any shopping buzz going on. Luckily for us, this holiday has not been commercialized like in some other countries (the United States of America for example). Instead, Ukrainians use New Year (January 1st) for gifts, lots of partying and celebration. New Year is The Holiday of the year. And Christmas is just a quiet family time. Time to pray, give, and visit with the ones you love.

On Christmas Eve, family gathers at the big table covered with a white cloth. There are typically 12 meatless dishes on the table. And the supper is called Holly Meal. In the center of a table there is a beautifully lit candle, and a loaf of round bread (any bread these days), symbolizing Christ Bread of Life. There is usually no turkey on Ukrainian Christmas table, and no pumpkin pie, or pecan pie like in the United States. The main dish of Holly Meal is “Kutia”, traditionally made with wheat (now rice or barley), poppy seeds, honey, nuts, raisins and dried fruit compote called “Uzvar” (traditional Russian/Ukrainian drink made of dried fruit). People also serve “borshch”, cooked potatoes, salads, and other special Ukrainian meals.

There is also a tradition for Ukrainian kids and young people to sing “kolyadka” (“kolyadky”- plural in Ukrainian) on Christmas. Equivalent in the U.S. would be Christmas caroling. A group of people gets together and visits different homes, singing “Kolyadky”, praising each home and its host or hostess, wishing them health and wealth. If you let them sing in your house, you should give them special treats like candies, chocolates, fruit, etc.

On Christmas day, kids visit their god parents and grand parents, bringing them some food. In return, they get gifts and/or money (anywhere from $10 to $30).

I personally love Orthodox Christmas because it’s a very quiet, peaceful, spiritual time with family and loved ones. And there is always “Kutia”, which I love so much.

I found a very interesting article about Christmas Eve service at St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Herkimer, NY. Click on this link to read more St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas is preserving traditions

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Categories: Ukrainian Traditional Holidays | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Traditional Ukrainian Christmas

  1. Love the description of Ukrainian Christmas. . .ours should be more like it.

    • Oh, I love it! It’s a great family/friends time! We just had an amazing Christmas dinner with our Ukrainian/American friends in such a pleasant atmosphere! And lots of Ukrainian dishes made our bellies happy too))

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