The Schedule for Christmas

Christmas, December 25

9:30 a.m. God with Us
(in English and Ukrainian)
10:30 a.m. The Divine Liturgy
(in English and Ukrainian)

New Years Day January 1, 2019

11:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great (in English and Ukrainian)

Epiphany, January 6

9:00 a.m. God with Us Lytija and the Blessing of Bread (in English and Ukrainian)
10:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy (in English and Ukrainian)
With the Great Sanctification of Water (in English and Ukrainian)

Christmas on the Julian Calendar, January 7

9:30 a.m. God with Us (in Ukrainian)
10:30 a.m. Divine Liturgy (in Ukrainian)

Holy Supper on Christmas Eve

A twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper is traditionally prepared in many Eastern European and Northern European cultures, especially those that were formerly part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian. The meal (Lithuanian: Kūčios, Polish: Wigilia or wieczerza wigilijna, Ukrainian: Свята вечеря, Sviata vecheria) consists of twelve meatless dishes representing the twelve months of the year. The tradition of the supper can be traced back to pre-Christian times and connected with remembrance of the souls of deceased ancestors.

In some parts of Poland a similar tradition of thirteen meatless dishes on Christmas Eve is practiced.

The specific dishes may differ from country to country, but many of them are universal. Due to the Nativity Fast, no meat, eggs or milk (including cheese) are allowed during the supper. Thus fish, mushrooms and various types of grain are the main offerings.

In Poland and Ukraine the supper begins with eating soup. Kutia, poppy milk (aguonų pienas) together with kūčiukai are served as a dessert and forms a significant part of the Lithuanian Christmas Eve menu. Poppy seeds are widely used for Christmas Eve dishes, because they symbolize abundance and prosperity.

Regarding the fish dishes, usually herring, carp or pike are eaten. In Lithuania herring (Lithuanian: silkė) dishes are rich and variable. Usually silkė su morkomis (herring with carrots), or silkė su grybais (herring with mushrooms) are served on Christmas Eve.

Mushrooms, especially dried or pickled, are also one of the main dishes eaten on Christmas Eve. Sauerkraut (Polish: Kiszona kapusta, Russian: Ква́шеная капу́ста, Kváshyenaya kapústa) with wild mushrooms or peas, red borsch, mushroom or fish soups are eaten in Poland and Ukraine.

Boiled or deep fried dumplings (Polish: pierogi, Ukrainian: вареники, varenyky, Lithuanian: auselės) with a wide variety of fillings (including sweet cabbage, mushrooms and crushed poppy seeds), are among the most popular dishes. Doughnuts filled with jam (Polish: pączki, Ukrainian: пампушки, pampushky) are served for a dessert in Ukraine, but in Lithuania sweet dishes are not common, as they are believed inappropriate for the atmosphere of the evening.

Traditional Ukrainian Sviata vecheria meal.

As for beverages, traditionally dried fruit compote or cranberry kisiel (Lithuanian: spanguolių kisielius) are common[citation needed]. In earlier times oaten kisiel was more common.

There is the whole ritual before the meal begins. Once the first star appears on the sky, each member of family washes his face, hands and legs in cold water saying: “Be as healthy as this water is.” The most brave people go to local rivers or lakes and have a short swim there. After the water procedure is finished, the family goes on with a prayer, often the Our Father. [1] After the prayer the head of the household will anoint each person present with honey, making the sign of the Cross on their forehead, saying: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: may you have sweetness and many good things in life and in the new year.”

Ukrainian Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a very special celebration for Ukrainians. Many traditions and rituals are observed, and each aspect of Christmas has a special meaning. Everyone is wearing their best clothes and the house has been cleaned top to bottom for the day, although all spider webs are left untouched. Legends about the generosity of spiders at Christmas mean they are not to be disturbed. What else is going on in the house?

Icons and Didukh

Didukh is the Ukrainian name for the wheat sheaf brought into the house on Christmas Eve. It is home for spirits of the ancestors for the season and is made of the very best wheat of the harvest.

Icons are a centerpiece of traditional Ukrainian homes and are usually decorated with rushnyky (embroidered or woven ritual towels). Nativity icons have special significance since they represent beliefs surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Sviatyi Vechir (Holy Supper)

There are many dishes on the table. Usually twelve meatless dishes are served during the Christmas Eve Supper or Sviatyi Vechir (Holy Supper). The food vary from region to region and from family to family, the most common include: kutia (wheat and poppy seed dish), borshch (beet soup), varenyky (perogies), kolachi (braided bread). The dishes are all meatless due to the belief that a Lenten meal cleanses the soul in preparation to welcome the Christ child into ones heart and home.

The Table

There are two tablecloths on the table. The plain bottom one is for the visiting spirits of the dead, while the top one is where the family eats. The blessing of straw is placed between the tablecloths and on the floor under the table to represent the manger. Sometimes candy and coins are hidden in the straw for the children to find after the meal. Gifts are received weeks earlier on St. Nicholas Day.

The Oven

The entire meal is prepared that day on a large oven, or pich; none of the food is prepared in advance.

The First Star

When the first star appears in the sky, like it did that first Holy Night when Christ was born, the Holy Eve. Once it is seen, the meal may start, but not a moment sooner! Supper begins with the lighting of a candle.

The Carolers

Caroling is a very important tradition in Ukraine. It is usually done between Christmas and Malanka (New Year’s Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar). Koliadky are sung for Christmas and shchedrivky were sung around Malanka. The lead caroler carries a star, which is elaborately decorated for the occasion. If you listen closely, you may be able to hear a choir singing right now!