Ukrainian Canadians begin their Christmas Celebrations

TORONTO, Jan. 6 /CNW/ - Tonight as the first star appears in the sky, Ukrainian Canadian families will gather to celebrate Christmas Eve. It is the climax of a six week Nativity Fast period called Pylypivka.

Sviata Vecheria (the Christmas Eve Supper) is steeped in tradition and features a humble and reverent 12-dish meal in honour of the twelve apostles spreading food for the soul throughout the world. The dishes contain no meat or dairy products to show respect for the animals that shared their place of shelter and were present for the birth of Christ.

A few wisps of hay are placed 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.

Carolling begins after the Sviata Vecheria as groups of carollers go from house to house and "for a song" the hosts provide a donation to the charity the carollers 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.

"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 Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholic brethren all the best during this Christmas season."

Khrystos rodyvsia! (Christ is born!) "Slavite Yoho!" (Let Us Glorify Him!) - Merry Christmas!

SOURCE Ukrainian Canadian Congress

For further information: For further information: UCC Media Contact: Darla Penner, Telephone: (204) 942-4627, Email:, Website:

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