The Orthodox Christians celebrate one of the most solemn Christian holidays - the Christmas. Commonly known as Orthodox Christmas, the celebration comes after family dinners on Christmas Eve (Jan. 6), when Orthodox faithful gather for a traditional meal at tables set with centuries-old traditions. The feast's date, which is observed as Christmas in some Orthodox churches, is set by the older Julian calendar. Others follow the Gregorian calendar and observe Christmas with the majority of Christian denominations on Dec. 25. For many Orthodox families, the feast ends a weeks-long fast that excludes certain foods. Before attending Christmas Eve services, many families broke the fast by eating meals that included mushrooms, cabbage, potatoes, lima beans, honey and home-baked bread. In different regions of Ukraine there are some differences in the customs of celebrating Christmas, but everywhere on the Christmas evening they usually cook 12 meatless dishes, the main of which is the Rich Kutia (coliphia). The kutia is viewed as the main ritual meal, so, a lot of ceremonials are connected with it. Once the first evening star appeared on the horizon, the whole family sat down to a rich table. First, according a custom, the host takes his place, followed by other family members. During the festive dinner, people are trying not to leave the table and to talk quietly. Standing, the head of the family offers to pray for the dead and invites them for the Christmas evening. It was believed that at this time all the near and distant relatives should come to the house, so they freed space for them on the benches and chairs and put the dishes and spoons for them.

QHA