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Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church
Українська Католицька Церква Богоявлення Господнього
Christmas Eve Holy Supper

Xристос Воскресе! Воистину Воскрес!
Christ Is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen!

Events > Holy Supper

Christmas Eve Holy Supper


As dusk approaches, the children of the family eagerly look for the first star. When it is seen, they announce, "God's star shines." The father would carry the bowl of kutia (boiled wheat mixed with poppy seeds and honey) around the home three times, reciting prayers. When he re-entered the home, the family would all pray together before the icons. The father would carry the kutia and the mother would carry the candle to the doorway, where the father would call out to the souls of their deceased family members to join them at supper.
After all the preparations have been completed, the father offers each member of the family a piece of bread dipped in honey, which had been previously blessed in church. He then leads the family in prayers of gratitude to God for the past year. It includes petitions for health, happiness, long life, salvation and that the family may be united in love forever. After the prayer the father extends his best wishes to everyone with the greeting "Khrystos Razhdajetsja" (Christ is born), and the family sits down to a twelve-course meatless Christmas Eve Supper. While it may appear that the serving of twelve dishes (in remembrance of the twelve apostles spreading food for the soul throughout the world) constitutes more of a feast than a fast, the dishes are the ingenious combination and lengthy preparation of the most important products of field, garden, and orchard.  The order of the dishes, and even the dishes themselves, are not uniform, for each region adheres to its own tradition and the dishes served depend upon the availability of ingredients; but meat, dairy products or eggs are never used.


As dusk approaches, the children of the family eagerly look for the first star. When it is seen, they announce, "God's star shines." The father would carry the bowl of kutia (boiled wheat mixed with poppy seeds and honey) around the home three times, reciting prayers. When he re-entered the home, the family would all pray together before the icons. The father would carry the kutia and the mother would carry the candle to the doorway, where the father would call out to the souls of their deceased family members to join them at supper.
After all the preparations have been completed, the father offers each member of the family a piece of bread dipped in honey, which had been previously blessed in church. He then leads the family in prayers of gratitude to God for the past year. It includes petitions for health, happiness, long life, salvation and that the family may be united in love forever. After the prayer the father extends his best wishes to everyone with the greeting "Khrystos Razhdajetsja" (Christ is born), and the family sits down to a twelve-course meatless Christmas Eve Supper. While it may appear that the serving of twelve dishes (in remembrance of the twelve apostles spreading food for the soul throughout the world) constitutes more of a feast than a fast, the dishes are the ingenious combination and lengthy preparation of the most important products of field, garden, and orchard.  The order of the dishes, and even the dishes themselves, are not uniform, for each region adheres to its own tradition and the dishes served depend upon the availability of ingredients; but meat, dairy products or eggs are never used.

After the supper, nuts and maybe candies would be scattered in the hay under the table for the little children to find. Out of respect for their elders, the children would take baskets of food to their grandparents and godparents after supper. This tradition may have derived from the belief that young innocent children are the messengers of good spirits; as they traveled to the homes they were visiting, the children would call our "Khrystos Razdayetsia (Christ is born)!" to all they passed, receiving back the answer. "Slavite Yoho (Let us glorify Him)!" Throughout the rest of the evening, the traditional Christmas carols are always sung by all the family.

When it was almost midnight, all the members of the family, from the oldest down to the youngest, who could possibly leave the house (barring extreme sickness) went to the Nativity Divine Liturgy, a beautiful celebration of Christ's birth where religious carols were also sung. When the Liturgy was ended, families would call to each other outside the church with the traditional greeting and after visiting with each other, the families then returned to their own homes. Now. that the fast was broken, the delicious pastries which were prepared for Christmas might be eaten before the family retired to bed.
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