Christmas Traditions in Ukraine: Holy Supper!
Z Rizdvom Khrystovym (Merry Christmas) from Ukraine! Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7th and enjoy the Sviaty Vechir, or Holy Supper, on January 6th.
It is the children’s job to search for the first star of the night. Once they spot it, the meal can begin!
The Holy Supperis traditionally comprised of twelve dishes, and might include grybna yuska (mushroom soup), golubtsi z rysom (cabbage rolls with rice) and varenyky (Ukrainian filled dumplings).
Kutia is often served first. It is a sweet grain porridge made of wheat grains, poppy seeds, honey and nuts. A very important part of the Holy Supper, the kutia is ceremoniously served to each person, usually in order of eldest to youngest.
It is traditional for everyone to eat at least one spoonful, as it represents the union of the living with their ancestors.
In the olden days, it was traditional to throw a spoonful of Kutia onto the ceiling. If it stuck, the family would have good luck the coming year. The more that stayed on the ceiling, the luckier they would be!
You and your kiddos can participate in this tradition this holiday season! Learn how to make Kutia below.
1 cup wheat berries, soaked in warm water for 24 hours, and then strained (kernels)
4 1/2 cups water or milk
1/2 cup poppy seed
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup raisins
Salt and cinnamon to taste
Recipe courtesy of Olha
- In a medium pot, combine wheat kernels and milk.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 hours.
- Add more liquid as necessary to keep kernels covered.
- Scald the poppy seeds with boiling water, drain, and add lukewarm water to cover.
- Soak 30 minutes, drain and grind in a food processor.
- Set aside.
- Drain water from wheat kernels and keep 1/2 cup of the liquid.
- Add the honey to the liquid and mix well.
- Mix kernels, honey, ground poppy seeds, walnuts, dried fruit, raisins, and salt.
- Bake in a 2-quart casserole dish, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Kutia may be served warm or chilled, and sprinkled with cinnamon, but it is best when prepared several days ahead of time in order for the full flavor to develop.