Celebrating Christmas in Ukraine
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Today we want to share with you something special:
Ukrainians Celebrate With Food, Family, and Wheat!
Ukraine is traditionally an Eastern Orthodox country, which means that they practice the customs and traditions of the Catholic Orthodox Church. The Saint Sophia Cathedral, with its golden cupola, mosaics and frescoes from the 11th century, attracts visitors to Kiev, and Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter are celebrated with age-old traditions.
Ukraine celebrates Christmas on January 7 according to the Eastern Orthodox religious calendar, although New Year's Eve tends to be a more important holiday and, in fact, the decorated Christmas tree in Kiev's Independence Square also functions as a New year's tree. During Soviet rule, Christmas was reduced in Ukraine, so now many families are returning to tradition and the holiday becomes more and more festive every year.
Sviaty Vechir, or Holy Night, is Ukraine's Christmas Eve which takes place on January 6. A candle in the window welcomes those without family to join in the celebration of this special moment, and Christmas dinner is not served until the first star appears in the sky, signifying the journey of three kings.
Families celebrate with festive dishes made especially for the event. They do not contain meat, dairy or animal fats, although fish such as herring can be served. Twelve plates symbolize the 12 apostles. One of the dishes is traditionally kutya, an ancestral dish made from wheat, poppy seeds and walnuts, a dish shared by all members of the family. An additional place can be placed to remember someone who has passed away. Hay can be brought home to remind those gathered of the manger in which Christ was born, and believers can attend services that evening or early on Christmas morning.
Wheat and Caroling
An interesting aspect of Christmas in Ukraine is bringing a sheaf of wheat into the home as a reminder of the ancestors and the long tradition of agriculture in Ukraine. The package is called didukh. Those familiar with Ukrainian culture understand the importance of grain to Ukraine; even the Ukrainian flag, with its blue and yellow colors, represents the golden grain under a blue sky.
Christmas carols are also part of the Ukrainian Christmas traditions. Although many songs are Christian in nature, others still contain pagan elements or recall the history and legends of Ukraine. The traditional singing involves a whole cast of characters that includes a person dressed as a furry animal and someone who carries the bag that is full of the rewards collected in exchange for the songs that the singing band sings. There may also be someone carrying a pole topped by a star, symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a Christmas custom that also appears in other countries.
Ukrainian Santa Claus
The Santa Claus of Ukraine is called Did Moroz (Father Frost) or Svyatyy Mykolay (Saint Nicholas). Ukraine has a special connection with Saint Nicholas, and the figures of Saint Nicholas and Did Moroz are closely associated; When you visit Ukraine, you will notice how many churches have the name of this saint associated with gift-giving.
Some children can receive gifts on December 19, the day of Saint Nicholas in Ukraine, while others must wait until Christmas Eve for the inauguration of the holiday.
We hope you enjoy watching this video about Christmas Celebration in Ukraine: Customs & Traditions
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