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Ukrainian Christmas Traditions

Updated on December 3, 2011

Ridvo (Christmas)

The Julian calendar is much different from the Gregorian calender. So many people celebrate the birth of Christ as the Gregorian calender states on December 25th. However when we talk about the Orthodox religions around the world we celebrate Christmas on January 6th and 7th.

The fun starts on Christmas Eve when we Have Holy Supper which is known as Sviata Vecheria. The beginning of the day is when all the fun starts. The cooking and celebrating brings great joy right from the beginning of the day.

The Ukrainian Christmas Tradition starts with covering your table with a very beautiful table cloth with brilliant, amazing embroidery. You will see hay spread out under the cloth. This hay is put there to remind of us the manger in which Christ was born. In the middle of the table you will see a lit candle that has been placed in a kolach. In tradition with the lit candle it is said that the heat that comes off the flame will lift my families prayers to God. Another cool tradition is when you set the table you set a place for every single person plus one. The plus one is always for a guest that was unexpected.

In the corner of the room a sheath of grain which is called a didukh and a Christmas tree Which is called a ialynka takes a very important place in the house. Now we will wait for sunset when all the kids will watch outside for the first star. Once the first star is spotted the family can then sit down to eat their holy supper.

A Bit About The Ukrainian Christmas Menu

One of the biggest things when it comes to Ukrainian Christmas traditions is the menu. The biggest thing you will notice right off the bat is that the menu contains absolutely no meat. What it does do is serves up 12 dishes which do represent the 12 apostles. It represents the food we get from a garden, the fields and off the trees. Lastly it will also represent what the lakes and rivers give us.

When the food is being put together no milk or fats from animals can be used. This is a very religious following to remind us that all living things including animals do have a soul.

I guess the first thing we should talk about is the first or main dish. The main dish is called kutia. Kutia is wheat that is cooked and then has poppy seeds, nuts and honey added to make it delicious.

The first thing that will be done is the entire family will say the Lords prayer. Right after that the head of the family will raise a full spoon of kutia and speak the traditional saying (Khrystos Rodyvsia which means Christ is born. At this point the entire family will respond with (Slavim Yoho) which says let us glorify him. At this point the entire family will enjoy a bowl of kutia.

Now they will get to start eating all the other delicious dishes that are being served. Borsch which is beet soup. Then varenyky which is a perogy, next is holubtsi whic are small sour cabbage rolls. You will also get different sorts of fish which include fried, baked and jellied. Another fun dish is picked herrings, mushrooms and then garlic flavored beans. Another dish is sour cabbage mixed with peas, we will also have stewed fruit, breads, great pastries, all sorts of fresh fruits and nuts. Once supper is done everyone will get together and sing traditional Christmas carols. However the first carol will always be the oldest koliada which is Boh Predvichnyi which is (God eternal)

Singing Of Christmas Carols

As the day comes to a close the family will attend a midnight church ceremony to hear and help to understand the story of when Christ was born. Then everyone in church will sing the most popular Christmas carols.

One other thing when it comes to Ukrainian Christmas traditions is everyone including the young and old will go Christmas caroling to their friends and neighbors homes. People through out the community wait and anticipate the carolers coming around. The carolers will collect donations for their church or other causes.

Ukrainian Christmas Traditions


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    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

      I find the lifestyles and traditions of other countries fascinating. Voted up, marked interesting.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Ahh that relly took a load off me. Thank you. People do get upset about the Nazi past some have had treadful experiences and not knowing you I thought maybe I tough a sore spot. Being German myself I can't belief what my people done. It is incredible. Thank you so much for your wonderful words. It gave me a great relief. I have the highest respect for you and your work and would have been devasted if my story would have hurt you. I still am fascinated by the window picture and placing hay unter the tablecloth. A wonderful tradition. Hopefully you write some more about the Ukraine.

    • Dale Mazurek profile image

      Dale Mazurek 6 years ago from Canada

      Hello, hello, not sure how you thought you upset me. I am proud that my hub helped you with memories. I love your comments on all my hubs. They are thought out and sincere. I promise you did nothing wrong.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      If I have upset you, please, Dale delete it. I didn't mean to spoil your description of your beautiful and very meaningful celebrated Christmas. I am sorry.

    • Dale Mazurek profile image

      Dale Mazurek 6 years ago from Canada

      Thank you to everyone for reading my hub. It truly are hubs like these that are the truly fun ones to read.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Dale Mazurek: What a fascinating, inspirational recounting of the profound beauty and spirituality of Ukrainian Christmas celebrations! It is spellbinding the way in which you discuss such customs as spreading the hay, uncovering the celestial position of the first star, and welcoming all to the table in which respect is shown for the animals.

      Thank you, voted up, etc.,


    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Oh, what a treat you gave me here. I always was fascinated by Ukranian and I am not just saying it. First of all they are a beautiful race and their clothes and dances are so beautiful. When I read the headline I knew I was in for a treat. Do you go often to the Ukrain? Hopefully I am not being hurtful.

      When I was a little girl and on my granparents farm were two young Ukrainians. Anna was beautiful. I still can see her and Philip. Anna often was teeling how the Nazis rounded them up and transported them to Germany. She was telling us that their parents didn't know where they were. When the war ended they were told to go up north to get some train to transport them back. My mother told them not go so soon but wait until everything settled down. But they were so homesick and anxious to get back. I often wondered whether they got home again. They were so gifted they could do beautiful things out of nothing. Anna showed me how to do paperflowers. I still know how to do it today. Philip done some beautful furnitures out of pine. They were allocated to my grandparents farm because their sons were fighting on the front. If I would know their surname I would have surged a long time ago. I know they came from a small village because Anna spoke about it.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very interesting. It must be an uplifting experience, one that hopefully lasts for the entire year.