Ukrainian Christmas Eve

You guys,

Today, I wanted to share with you our very important Ukrainian Christmas Eve traditions. You see, MomFOD is Ukrainian (born in Chicago) and Christmas Eve has always been a particularly enjoyable holiday for her. Having been a vegetarian since she was 19, this holiday made things a little easier because Ukrainians celebrate Christmas Eve as a vegetarian holiday, so there was nothing to avoid at the dinner table!


There are a lot of nuances to Ukrainian traditions, and if you’d like to read more about them, see here.  Each year, MomFOD makes borscht (beet soup), and often vyshky, which are little mushroom dumplings served cold in the hot soup. She also makes kolachky and sometimes, when she has the time, pirohy, the potato dumplings most people know as pierogi (that’s Polish and MomFOD refuses to use that word to refer to her little potato bombs.)

веселих свят!

The most important thing, though, that MomFOD does is to set aside a bit of food at the end of the evening for each departed loved one. She lights a candle and leaves it to illuminate the food and to welcome lost family and friends to the table after she’s gone to bed. Her Baba always told her that the dead come and enjoy the food on that night only, and we had to make sure to welcome them. MomFOD always promised her Baba that when she was gone, she’d leave some for her, too. And she does, and she also leaves it for her great-grandparents. I know we’ve had a lot of losses this year in the blogosphere of dear kitty friends, so maybe you guys will leave a little snack out for your OTRB friends so they can come visit and enjoy.

Here’s one of MomFOD’s favorite Christmas carols! Usually, Ukrainian carols are usually a downer, and actually, the lyrics to this one talk about sad donkeys and such, but the song is still joyful! Have a listen:

And here’s Mom wearing her Vyshyvka, embroidered by her Baba. She took the photo for Vyshyvanka Vivtorok last week to show her support for Ukraine!

MomFOD wearing her Ukrainian Finest

MomFOD wearing her Ukrainian Finest

We hope you enjoyed learning about our traditions! Why don’t you share some of yours! Is there something special you do for Christmas?



PS. We got our Secret Paws gift! Read all about it here!


18 thoughts on “Ukrainian Christmas Eve

  1. The Sviaty Vechir was always my favorite meal of any holiday–I guess I was always a vegetarian! I never knew my grandparents, they all died before I was born or when I was very young, but my aunt on the Ukrainian side was faithful in reproducing the recipes, especially the dried mushroom soup and kvasit kapustu. My aunt made pyrohi at the church so they were plentiful. Khrystos Rodyvsya! May you have a wonderfully successful meal. The other part of me is Polish, so we had a month of eating good foods.

    • Slavyty yoho! 🙂 (i have no idea how to write that in English…) It is such a lovely evening, isn’t it? 🙂 Congrats to your aunt for keeping up the traditions. That’s what I’m trying to do now that my grandmother is gone. – Alana.

  2. I so enjoyed this! Being originally from Cleveland, I had a lot of Ukranian friends there. I never knew all of the traditions! My Grandfather used to love borscht!!
    Love the tradition of setting food out for departed loved ones.
    You are soooo darned pretty!
    Hoping you have a wonderful holiday, thank you for sharing your traditions with us! xoxo

  3. Very cool! Love the picture of MomFOD in her beautiful blouse! (We’re Ukrainian too!) Wishing you all beautiful holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

    Clooney Claus & Neytiri

  4. I’m familiar with some of these traditions since I have Finnish/Russian ancestry. We always celebrated with the big dinner and gift opening on Christmas Eve. It felt more magical under the glow of twinkling lights of the freshly cut down fir tree. Love borscht! Leaving an offering to a departed loved one can be extended to a cat right?

    • My MomFOD’s family is of Finnish/Russian heritage too! My GrandmeowmyFOD, her mother, is 100% Finnish. This explains the Borscht saga- my MomFOD is the only weirdo in her family who does not enjoy it, much to everyone’s dismay. It’s the same with drinking coffee- MomFOD says it is like blasphemy to her relatives!

  5. What cool traditions! It’s wonderful to have such a heritage to draw on. The head peep says she loves the blouse you’re wearing in that photo.

    We saw your Secret Paw and it’s amazing. We’re a bit embarrassed that we drew Ms Stella O’Houligan in the drawing, and we aren’t crafty enough to have sent anything handmade like that!

  6. crepes…how kewl iz thiz post..tell yur mom fod we trooly enjoyed reedin de traditions page N listenin ta de carol…. tho sorree if de donkeys bee sad:(
    de blouse momfods gram made iz rockin awesum…due de colorz N flowers signify Christmas!!?? hay, we hi jacked a mobile dee vize N we iz bout ta get
    busted, merry Christmas two ewe N de hole familee, heerz two duffy N de stockin and health two all..spesh a lee rocket J!

  7. Family traditions are so important, and it’s wonderful that you are keeping these traditions alive. Ukrainian holidays sound lovely and delicious! Crepes- Devon wanted me to ask if you help make the Borscht? If so, how do you keep the beet juice from staining your sumptuous stripey fur? Have a Happy Christmas!!

  8. Kolachky! Oh my. We always had those when we went to my mother’s Czech relatives for Christmas events. Houska, too. I haven’t made either in years. I love the idea of leaving a bit out for the departed. Such a joyful way to honor them. I hope you get lots of treats and goodies, Crepes, for Christmas. Don’t tell my girls but they get a can of something special tomorrow. Plus, I’ll leave the wrapping paper out so they can shred it to their hearts content. Merry Christmas.

Stumps up? Stumps down? What are your thoughts?