Culture and Traditions

Ukrainian Canadian Congress

2011 – 150th Anniversary of the Death of Taras Shevchenko

The Ukrainian Canadian community scattered across Canada honours annually in March, Taras Shevchenko – the greatest literary figure of Ukrainian literature, a major painter – artist and a freedom fighter. The celebrations in March (the month of his birth and death) include concerts, symposia and academic presentations by members of Ukrainian organizations, churches and especially youth groups. Similar celebrations with greater intensity also take place in Ukraine every March. This year marks the 150th anniversary since his repose (1861-2011).

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News Release

January 6, 2011

Ukrainian Canadians begin their Christmas Celebrations
Tonight as the first star appears in the sky, Ukrainian Canadian families will gather to celebrate Christmas Eve.  Sviata Vecheria (the Christmas Eve Supper) is steeped in tradition and features a humble and reverent 12-dish meal in honour of the twelve apostles spreading food for the soul throughout the world.  The dishes contain no meat or dairy products to show respect for the animals that shared their place of shelter and were present for the birth of Christ.
It is the climax of a six week Nativity Fast period called Pylypivka.

On Jan. 6 (Christmas Eve) the traditional dinner table has a few wisps of hay under an embroidered tablecloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem.  A decorated sheaf of wheat or “didukh”, symbolizing the harvest, is placed in a corner of the room under an icon, with each kernel of the didukh denoting the spiritual presence of family and forebears. All are called to the table when the first star appears in the eastern evening sky.
“Christmas on Jan. 7 is a centuries old tradition based on the old Julian Calendar that is celebrated by both Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches,” commented Paul Grod    , UCC National President.  “We wish our Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholic brethren all the best during this Christmas season.”
Carolling begins after the Sviata Vecheria as groups of carollers go from house to house and “for a song” the hosts provide a donation to the charity the carollers have chosen.  Ukrainian Christmas carols (“koliadky”) are a part of the rich Ukrainian oral tradition and through them one can trace the Ukrainian historical experience to antiquity.
Khrystos rodyvsia! (Christ is born!) “Slavite Yoho!” (Let Us Glorify Him!) – Merry Christmas!

UCC Media Contact:

Darla Penner
Telephone:  204-942-4627
Email: dpenner@ucc.ca
Website:
www.ucc.ca