I’ve got inspired to write a little bit on Christmas celebration in our countries. Just some brief notes and hopefully I would add more on Christmas kitchen and traditions later on…
Traditionally there are Orthodox and Catholic churches in Belarus: main difference is a Christmas celebration date. The Orthodox Churches use the Julian calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, so Christmas Eve is happening on January 6th of the following year in the Gregorian calendar.
Basically celebration consists of 2 days:
Christmas Eve: is the day before Christmas which is celebrated as a day of fasting. Traditional meatless 12-dishes (symbolize the Twelve Apostiles) and Christmas Supper is served before opening the gifts. It’s a family dinner which starts when the first star appears in the sky, no meat products are served. Bits of hay or straw are put under the tablecloth and the candelit dinner begins.
Among the 12 typical dishes you can find kutia which comes first (a sweet grain Christmas pudding), different salads (for example vinaigrette, a salad of cooked beets, potatoes, carrots, pickled cucumbers, onions, etc. dressed with oil), different kind of fish and herring (can be also fish in aspic), mashrooms, pirozhki (pastes) stuffed with a variety of fillings (mashrooms, poppy seeds, etc), poppy seed strudel and others. Kissel is a fruit soup popular as a dessert which consists of sweetened juice, thickened with arrowroot, cornstarch or potato starch. Kissel can be served either hot or cold it can be drunk
The Christmas Day – next morning after the Christmas Eve. That day you can see a lot of meat on the table cold and warm – dried, smoked, boiled, also cold neat’s tongue with horseradish. Many things to add next time J
Belarusian name of Christmas is «Kaliady». Kaliady (December 25 – January 7) has pagan roots (most popular winter celebration of the days getting longer) that has been included in the Christian tradition. During Kaliady folks would dress themselves as animals carry the sun and the goat’s head on a stick and visit different houses singing special Kaliady carols in which the performers greet the house owners, wish them success and plentitude.