Ukrainians Prepare for Christmas Eve on January 6
Christmas is preceded by a four-week fast, the time of spiritual purification. The culmination of the celebratory preparation is Christmas Eve, the day of vigil, prayer and fasting. Christmas Eve with its 12 lenten dishes includes not only significant church services but is rich in symbolic rites and customs of our nation, some of which can be traced back to pre-Christian times.
In general, the celebration of Christmas Eve is similar all over Ukraine. The differences in the southern and northern regions are due to the influence of other cultures. Many of the original customs were lost or forgotten due to mass deportations of Ukrainians from their ethnic lands or through the Soviet atheism propaganda. Nevertheless, Ukrainians today open themselves to God, to native traditions and rites in a new way.