Christmas in Ukraine: traditions, carols and nativity scenes

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Christmas in Ukraine: traditions, carols and nativity scenes

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Christmas is one of the most favorite holidays for Ukrainians, because it is an opportunity to relax, spend time with family and enjoy delicious dishes. This year, every holiday has a special touch. Since the beginning of the war, our values ​​have changed, and all Ukrainians have one common dream - victory as soon as possible. However, the traditions that Ukrainians have followed from generation to generation should not be abandoned. Spend Christmas Eve with your family, choose traditional entertainment and prepare your favorite Christmas dishes.


When do Ukrainians celebrate Christmas?


Many Ukrainians are interested in the answer to this question. There is no definite answer, so you can make your own decision about the date.


Historically, there is a tradition of celebrating the holiday according to the Julian calendar - January 7. In addition to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, believers of the Georgian, Armenian, Serbian and Jerusalem churches celebrate in January.


The Catholic Church celebrates the birth of the Son of God on December 25. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that the celebration of December 25 is another decisive step by russia and the Moscow Patriarchate.


However, since 2017, it is possible to officially celebrate Christmas in Ukraine in December. Since then, Orthodox Ukrainians can choose the day themselves. In 2019, Metropolitan Epiphanies of Kyiv and All Ukraine confirmed this and added that the OCU will consider the possibility of carrying out a calendar reform if it is supported by the majority of believers.


Christmas fast


Traditionally, a forty-day fast begins before Christmas. During this period, believers give up certain foods and entertainment in order to cleanse their souls before an important Christian holiday.


In 2022, the post will continue:


• from November 15 to December 24 according to the Gregorian calendar;

• from November 28 to January 6 according to the Julian style.


During fasting, you cannot eat products of animal origin, you must refrain from entertainment, obscene language, drinking alcohol and smoking.


What dishes are prepared on Christmas Eve?


According to tradition, twelve dishes are served on the festive table. Such a number, according to one version, symbolizes the number of months in the year, according to another - the number of apostles.


We share the five most popular dishes with which guests are treated during dinner:


1. Kutya. The most important dish of Christmas Eve, which is usually prepared from wheat, raisins, poppy seeds and honey. However, wheat can be replaced with other cereals, dried fruits, candied fruits and nuts can be added. Each ingredient of the dish has a symbolic meaning. The grain means eternal life, the honey is a symbol of the word of God, the poppy is the innocent shed blood of Christ. Let us add that Ukrainians have long left kutya for the souls of the dead, as this dish means union with the afterlife;

2. Uzvar. This drink represents the birth of Jesus Christ, because water is a metaphorical personification of cleansing the soul and body;

3. Doves. For the holy dinner, all dishes must be lean, so prepare cabbage rolls with rice and mushrooms;

4. Lean borscht. In the last century, borscht was an important dish of the festive table. Try borscht with prunes and mushrooms;

5. Bread or kalachi. Bread is the head of everything, so it must be among the twelve dishes.


Let's add that the meal should be started after the first star in the sky - the Star of Bethlehem.


Christmas customs and entertainment


Didukh is an important custom of Christmas celebration. A sheaf of wheat serves as a symbol of well-being, wealth and the spirit of ancestors. Traditionally, it is placed in the corner of the table or under the icons.


Another unique tradition is caroling. During Christmas Eve and the next day, carolers go from house to sing carols with the owners' permission and receive a reward.


The nativity tradition is still preserved in Ukrainian cities and villages. A puppet or costume theater performance is a favorite Christmas custom. Believers can immerse themselves in a special atmosphere by dressing up as religious characters.


Christmas fortune-telling has been going on for centuries. They learned about their future with the help of candles, wax, milk, jewelry and hair. In general, fortune-telling was a popular winter pastime, because fortune-telling was done on various holidays up to Epiphany.


How to celebrate Christmas this year is up to you. Despite the martial law, it is important to distract yourself and create a festive atmosphere for yourself and your children. At the same time, it should be remembered that thousands of defenders will celebrate Christmas in the trenches, so noisy celebrations will be inappropriate this year.