Celebrating Christmas in Ukraine: main traditions and symbols
Ukrainians celebrate Christmas according to different calendars: Gregorian (December 25) and Julian (January 7). Most still prefer January.
There are many traditions and rituals associated with Christmas. Today we will remember the main traditions of celebrating Christmas in Ukraine:
Fast. 40 days before Christmas, the Christmas fast began – one of the longest of the year. In terms of severity, it does not take first place, but lasts 40 days and is necessary to cleanse the soul and body before Christmas. During the Christmas fast any vegetables and fruits, porridges, legumes, mushrooms are allowed, on most days you are allowed to eat fish. You can not eat meat, eggs, cheese, dairy products, butter.
Christmas Eve. On January 6, the Holy Evening (Sviata Vecheria) is traditionally celebrated, the obligatory attribute of which is 12 fasting meals on the table. There are two versions of the interpretation of this number: one is the number of apostles, and the other is the number of months in one year.
Kutia. The main dish of the evening is kutia (boiled wheat mixed with poppy seeds and honey, walnuts, raisins). And after the feast with the family it is customary to bring dinner to the godparents. We took kutia and other dishes and went to visit for a few hours, but then we always returned home to celebrate Christmas morning with the family. After lunch, they could visit grandparents living alone or other relatives.
Didukh. The main decoration of the house is the didukh – a sheaf of wheat stalks, which symbolizes the spirit of our ancestors and is a symbol of prosperity, wealth, amulet of the family. It is believed that on these holy days our ancestors return to spend time with their families. Didukh is placed in the most honorable place in the house – under the images.
Christmas carols. Since the evening of January 6, it is customary to sing carols with a big star in their hands: carolers sing Christmas carols. Boys and girls prepare special songs and poems that they take from house to house, entertaining their neighbors in exchange for sweet gifts and coins. It is believed that the more carolers come to the house, the more prosperity and wealth there will be in the family over the next year.
Divination. The tradition of divination on Christmas night is older than Christmas itself in Ukraine. Many believe that divination is not possible on this day, while others, on the contrary, believe in the great power of the holiday, as well as that divination on Christmas Eve will help to know the future. Girls in Ukraine are still divining their fate to find out if they will get married and the name of the future groom. Dreams from January 6 to 7 are also considered prophetic.
The morning of January 7 begins with people greeting each other with the phrase "Christ is born!" and the answer "Glorify Him!" On this day, people go to church for Christmas prayers and then gather with family. On this day, people are no longer limited to fasting food.
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