Ukrainian Canadians begin their Christmas Celebrations

    WINNIPEG, Jan. 6 /CNW/ - As the first star appears in the sky tonight,
Ukrainian Canadian families will gather to celebrate Christmas Eve. Sviata
Vecheria (the Christmas Eve Supper) is steeped in tradition and features a
humble and reverent 12-course meatless meal in honour of the twelve apostles
spreading food for the soul throughout the world.
    It is the climax of a six week Nativity Fast period called Pylypivka.
    "Christmas on Jan. 7 is a centuries old tradition based on the old Julian
Calendar that is celebrated by both Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches,"
commented Paul Grod, UCC National President. "We wish our Eastern-rite
Orthodox and Catholic brethren all the best during this Christmas season."
    On Jan. 6 (Christmas Eve) the traditional dinner table has a few wisps of
hay under an embroidered tablecloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem.
A decorated sheaf of wheat or "didukh", symbolizing the harvest, is placed in
a corner of the room under an icon, with each kernel of the didukh denoting
the spiritual presence of family and forebears. All are called to the table
when the first star appears in the eastern evening sky.
    Sviata Vecheria begins with the oldest member of the family offering
guests a piece of bread dipped in honey as a sign of plenty and family unity.
The supper continues with courses introduced one by one starting with kutya,
which is cooked wheat sweetened with honey and dressed with poppy seeds
symbolizing prosperity, peace and good health, and concluding with dessert
featuring "uzvar" - a composte of stewed fruit.
    Caroling begins after the Sviata Vecheria as groups of carolers go from
house to house and "for a song" the hosts provide a donation to the charity
the carolers have chosen. Ukrainian Christmas carols ("koliadky") are a part
of the rich Ukrainian oral tradition and through them one can trace the
Ukrainian historical experience to antiquity.
    Khrystos rodyvsia! (Christ is born!) "Slavite Yoho!" (Let Us Glorify
Him!) - Merry Christmas!

For further information:

For further information: Darla Penner, Program Coordinator, Ukrainian
Canadian Congress, Phone (204) 942-4627,,

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Ukrainian Canadian Congress

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