Ukrainian Christmas is a festive and meaningful holiday celebrated by Ukrainian Catholics and Orthodox Christians on January 7th, according to the Julian calendar. This date marks the end of the Christmas fast and the beginning of the twelve-day celebration of the Nativity of Jesus.
This year with the ongoing war in Ukraine as the people fight off the Russian invaders, this holiday is taking on special meaning around the world.
One of the most iconic traditions of Ukrainian Christmas is the blessing of the home. On Christmas Eve, family members gather together to bless their home with holy water and to light the traditional Christmas candle, which is believed to symbolize the light of Christ. This candle is left burning throughout the night and is used to bless the Christmas Eve meal, known as “sviata vechera.”
The Christmas Eve meal is an important part of Ukrainian Christmas and typically consists of a variety of meatless dishes, such as borscht, varenyky (stuffed dumplings), and kutia (a sweet grain pudding). After the meal, it is traditional to leave some food on the table overnight for the spirits of the deceased to enjoy.
On Christmas Day, families attend church services and exchange gifts. Children also look forward to the arrival of “Ded Moroz,” the Ukrainian equivalent of Santa Claus, who brings them sweets and small gifts.
In addition to these traditions, Ukrainian Christmas is also a time for family gatherings and celebrations. It is common for families to decorate their homes with traditional Ukrainian Christmas decorations, such as wreaths, Christmas trees, and nativity scenes.
Ukrainian Christmas is a beloved holiday that is steeped in rich traditions and meaningful rituals. It is a time for family, faith, and celebration, and is an important part of Ukrainian culture and heritage.