In addition, my wife Katrusia and I want to wish all our relatives and all our Ukrainian friends “Veselykh Svyat” (happy holidays) of the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, which all Christian Ukrainians in Ukraine and many in the western world, including here in Southwest Florida, will be observing in accordance with the Julian calendar next week. The observance will commence Monday, Jan. 6, a strict fast day, with the traditional “Svyata Vecherya” (Holy Supper) consisting of 12 meatless dishes prepared from potatoes, flour, beans, cabbage, mushrooms, fish and fruits. The first dish is the traditional millennia-old “kutya,” consisting of wheat grains with poppy seeds and honey, often with crushed nuts and/or raisins.
The 12 dishes are in honor of the 12 apostles, although some say that each dish is dedicated to each month of the year.
The actual “Rizdvo” (Christmas) will be celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 7, to be followed by two more holidays: Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God on Jan. 8, and Saint Archdeacon Stephan on Jan. 9.
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What will 2014 be like?
The world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start, in August 1914, of “the war to end all wars” — World War I.
Ukrainians worldwide, and many non-Ukrainians, including Georgians, Russians and others, will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the national Ukrainian prophet, poet, artist and revolutionary Taras Shevchenko. According to official decree by the government of Ukraine, nationwide celebrations will take place throughout the year 2014.
There will be other, less-important commemorations, including many family observances, such as my own 70th anniversary of leaving my family, home and country on July 7, 1944, at the age of 16, ostensibly for a relatively short time. I never saw my father again, as he was deported to Siberia where he died, and was lucky to see my mother and my siblings (who were also deported with my father) 45 years later, after the collapse of the “evil empire.”
This year, the month of August will have five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays. This phenomenon occurs only once every 823 years. I am told that the Chinese call it “pocketful of money.” Not being able to speak or understand Chinese, I have to believe it, albeit reluctantly.
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The traditional way to eat “Svyata Vecherya” and to perform certain rituals, some of which are remnants of the pre-Christian traditions of ancient Ukrainians, was and still is at home with family. Here in North Port, the Ukrainian American community started a new tradition to have the meal at a church or community hall, due to many elderly people who are unable to prepare the traditional dishes.
The communal supper at St. Andrew’s Religious and Cultural Center will be served at 6 p.m. Monday, and at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Parish Center, at 5 p.m. All are invited to both.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com.
by Atanas Kobryn