Christmas in Ukraine is one of the favorite and most important holidays of the year. It is celebrated on the 7th of January, according to the Julian calendar followed by the Orthodox church. The different calendars (the Catholic church uses the Gregorian calendar) are the reason why the same religious holidays are celebrated on different dates.
We have a lot of traditions attributed to this holiday. The festivities start on January 6th, on Christmas Eve when the whole family gathers together for the special feast called Svyata Vecherya (Holy Supper). There should be 12 lenten courses on the table (no meat, eggs or milk products is allowed in those courses), each course dedicated to one of Christ’s Apostles.
Before the Holy Supper, the head of the family brings Didukh into the house. ‘Didukh’ (pronounced Dee-duh) is a word which consists of the word ‘did’ – grandfather and ‘didukh ‘means ‘the spirit of the ancestors’ and symbolizes welfare, abundance and the connection of the family with its ancestors. It is made of wheat ears tied with straw or colored threads.
This diduch is a real masterpiece.
This year a huge didukh is placed in the main pedestrian street of our city.
The main dish of the Holy Supper is kutya. It is made of boiled wheat mixed with honey, poppy seeds, raisins, and walnuts. Every member of the family should eat at least one spoonful of kutya before they try any other dish on the table.
Another beautiful tradition I cannot but mention is kolyaduvannya (caroling). There are hundreds of Christmas carols (kolyadky) in Ukraine many of which are very old, pre-Christian. The topics of carols are different. A lot of them are about the birth of Jesus, of course. But there is another group of carols which are glorification songs. They praise the landowner and the members of his family, praise his work and his household.The carol singers always ask the hosts for permission to carol. If the answer is yes, they enter the house and sing for the whole family.
This is one of the most popular carols performed by the vocal acapella group “Pikkardiyska Tertsia”:
And a lot of people all over the world know and love “Carol of the Bells” which is Ukrainian schedrivka, a New Year song I talked about in one of my previous posts.
Merry Christmas to you all!
Christ is born!
Let’s glorify Him!