25 Days of Christmas: A Ukrainian Christmas with Cesya MaRae Cuono

Merry Christmas Eve! 25 Days of Christmas is winding to a close. Today, we have Cesya MaRae Cuono, author of The Elemental series, visiting with us!

Heyall, Cesya here. Merry Christmas Eve! I’m so glad I got this spoton Brea’s “25 Days of Christmas” blog event. And what betterway to kick off Christmas Eve than to share my family’s ChristmasEve tradition with all of you.
So,as all of you know (or don’t know) I’m Ukrainian, Italian,German, Russian, and Dutch but mainly grew up on the Ukrainian sideof traditions. Before my time, our Christmas Eve wasn’t untilJanuary 6thbut as the times moved on it was celebrated on December 24thwith all other religions. Since the changing of our Christmas Eve,our Christmas celebration goes from December 24th-January6th(Feast of the Epiphany). The Christmas Eve Supper or Holy Supper(Ukrainian: Sviata Vecheria) is a very family oriented time. It’s atime dedicated to God, family, and ancestors. Dinner doesn’t beginuntil the first star appears in the sky. This star is believed to bethe Star of Bethlehem and symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men.The table is covered with two tablecloths, one for the ancestors ofthe family, the second for the living members. In the old days haywas laid out under the table as well as under the tablecloths toremember that Christ was born in a manger. The table always has oneextra place setting for the deceased family members, whose souls,according to belief, come on Christmas Eve and partake of the food.This year our table will have two place settings, one for mygrandfather and one for my grandmother.
Nowit’s time for our twelve-course meatless meal. There are twelvecourses in our Holy Supper, because according to the Christiantradition each course is dedicated to one of Christ’s Apostles.
Thefirst course is always unleavened (flat) bread and wine, whichrepresents Christ’s body and blood. It’s the main dish of ourwhole meal. The next course is honey which represents a sweet year tocome. Then on to garlic which represents the ending of an old year.We’ve combined the first three courses and eat our bread with thehoney and garlic on top and drink the wine with it. The next courseis our soups: Cabbage and Split-Pea. The foods to follow in theremaining courses are prunes, fish (crab, shrimp, and tilapia),mushrooms (cooked in onions and butter), pierogies (homemade), saltand pepper (yes, they’re considered a course), and our desserts areassorted fruits and nuts.
Sonow you have my Christmas Eve traditions. I hope you learnedsomething new! And I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a safe andHappy New Year!

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