Ukrainian Christmas Recipes
The Christmas holiday is particularly rich in symbolism and ritual within the Ukrainian culture. Christmas Eve is the most important part of Christmas. Its main feature is the evening meal call "Holy Supper." The supper on Holy Night has twelve Lenten dishes, symbolic of the twelve apostles who gathered at the Last Supper. Traditionally the dishes are prepared with vegetable shortening or cooking oil, omitting all animal fat, milk and milk products, because Christmas is preceded by a period of fast which ends on Christmas Day at midnight. Some people do not observe the fast, but many would fast strictly on the day of Christmas Eve in commemoration of the hardships endured by the Virgin Mary on the road to Bethlehem.
In some homes, the supper table is first scattered with some hay in memory of Baby Jesus in a manger. The table was then covered with an elaborately embroidered table cloth. In some homes a round, braided bread called KOLACH is placed in the centre of the table with candles on either side. Bread is used in many Ukrainian celebrations as a symbol of prosperity.
The meal begins with a small bowl of KUTIA, which is a mixture of cooked wheat flavoured with honey, ground poppy seed, chopped nuts and apples. This is followed by several fish dishes, wild mushrooms, cabbage rolls, VARENYKY (dumplings with a variety of fillings), stewed fruit and bread. Borsch was also included in some households.
Following are several recipes that are traditionally prepared for Christmas Eve, ingredients vary according to availability.
Article and Recipes by Gloria Cardey