January 6th is an important day for Ukrainians across the world, with the celebration of Christmas Eve on the “old” calendar – the Julian calendar.
The event is rich in traditions and dinner is called “Sviata Vechera.”
Ken Mazur is the first Vice President with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Regina. He says Old Calendar Christmas Eve is more important to Ukrainian culture than Christmas Day on December 25.
Mazur says much of what happens at the Christmas Eve table is prescribed by tradition.
A handful of hay is placed on the dining table to symbolize the manger and is covered by a fancy embroidered tablecloth. For a centrepiece, three circular breads, called kollach or kalach, are stacked one on top of the other, encircling a candle.
The children must watch for the first star in the eastern sky, the signal that the meal may begin.
Dinner consists of 12 dishes, representing the 12 apostles. There are many traditional Christmas Eve dishes, some of them served at every Sviata Vechera. No meat, animal fat, milk or milk products can be included in this meatless meal, but fish is served.
In Regina, one family is once again preparing for a fantastic feast. Barb Dedi says she has been preparing for Christmas Eve for a long time.
Dedi will have more than 50 people in her home representing several nationalities that can experience a Ukrainian Christmas for maybe the first time.