Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
WINNIPEG, Jan. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - For Ukrainians, Christmas is one of the
most important holidays of the year. Ukrainian Christmas festivities
begin on Christmas Eve (January 6) and conclude on the Feast of the
Epiphany (January 19) following the Julian calendar.
The Christmas Eve Supper or Svyata Vecherya (Holy Supper) brings the family together to partake in Lenten foods and
begins the traditional holiday celebrations. The customs of Christmas
Eve are dedicated to God, to the welfare of the family and to the
remembrance of one's ancestors.
In preparation for Svyata Vecherya, the floor is covered with straw and
fresh hay is placed upon the table. This is to recall the birth of
Christ, born in the stable and laid in a manager. A white or
embroidered table cloth is then spread over the table. A didukh (sheaf of wheat stalks) which means "grandfather," is placed in the
corner under religious icons as a sign of a prosperous harvest and the
gathering of the family.
A kolach (special loaf of bread) is placed on the table with a lit beeswax candle placed in its center.
This is to remind the family of the Star of Bethlehem. The kolach is
braided from three rings of dough symbolizing the Holy Trinity and is
circular in form representing eternity.
The departed of the family are remembered on this day by the placing of
an extra table setting. The extra setting is also there as a reminder
that a passing stranger is welcome. The Holy Supper cannot begin until
the appearance of the first star in the eastern sky. It is the role of
the children to search the night sky for the first star as well as
decorate the Christmas tree.
Once the star has been seen, the didukh is positioned in its place of honor by the head of the household and
everyone gathers at the table. The head of the household raises a
spoonful of kutia (cooked wheat, ground poppy seeds and honey) asks for God's blessing on
his family and extends his best wishes and greetings with "Khrystos
Rodyvsya" (Christ is born). Everyone replies "SlavimoYoho" (Let us
glorify Him). The partaking of the kutia is the most symbolic ritual of
the entire Svyata Vecherya and everyone must have at least a spoonful.
The meal itself consists of twelve meatless dishes symbolizing Christ's
twelve apostles. During the supper it is customary for carolers to
enter the home and wish the family happiness and blessings of the
Infant Child by the singing of traditional carols (Koliady).
On January 19th the Feast of Jordan / Epiphany is celebrated. This holiday symbolizes the baptism of Christ in the
river Jordan. In special and very unique religious services, water is
blessed and brought home by the faithful. Priests will also visit
parishioners to bless their homes with the Holy Water thus concluding
the traditional festivities of the season.
SOURCE: Ukrainian Canadian Congress
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