As many are getting back into routine after the Christmas holidays, Ukrainians in the region are just starting cultural holiday traditions. With the main church in Ukraine being the Orthodox Church, they use the old ‘Julian’ calendar which has the culture celebrating Rizvdo, or Christmas, on January 7th.
According to the Saskatchewan Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the traditional celebration starts before the 7th with an all-day fast on the 6th (Christmas Eve), followed by Sviata Vecheria or Holy Supper. The Christmas Eve supper traditionally is comprised of 12 meatless dishes prepared with vegetable shortening or cooking oil.
Many symbolic pieces adorn the celebration including decorated bread that sits at the centre of the table and represents prosperity. The first sheaf of wheat cut at harvest time is also placed in a corner of the house, symbolizing their ancestors and an extra place is always set at the table, symbolizing departed family members. Additionally, to show that a stranger or lost soul is welcome in the home, Ukrainians will place a lighted candle in the window.
Following the feast which can include multiple dishes ranging from ‘kutia’ a type of sweet porridge, ‘borsch’ or beet soup, dumplings, pierogi and cabbage rolls without meat, family and friends traditionally will sing carols and visit before a midnight church ceremony.
As Christmas celebrations wrap up, New Year’s Day celebrations are only a week away for Ukrainians, falling on January 13th.
Saskatchewan, according to the most recent survey from Statistics Canada has just over 11,000 residents with Ukrainian heritage residing in the province.