Like many Europeans, Ukrainian families’ holiday celebrations circulate around Christmas Eve, and Sviata Vechera, the “holy dinner” lies at their centre. On the evening of January 6, the night before Epiphany, children watch for the emergence of the first star in the eastern sky, and the family dinner commences. In recognition of the country’s agricultural past, a sheaf of wheat, called a didukh, is brought into the home, and the family’s traditional twelve-dish Christmas dinner commences.
After dinner, it is common for families to follow their meal up with Ukrainian carols, either in their homes, or as a part of groups that travel through the community, singing and collecting donations. Although the Christmas Eve dinner is central to the festivities, households await a gifts earlier in the holiday season, when Svyatyi Mykolai (Saint Nicholas) visits to leave treats under children’s pillows on December 19.
Photo: Adam Baker via Flickr