Happy Christmas to you all! Enjoy the last day of the Holiday Season and celebrate the Ukrainian way - with lots of food :)
An excerpt from Vera Lysenko's Yellow Boots:
...Anton had piled a bunch of rye straw and fragrant hay on a sled and directed Lilli, "You bring in the sheaf with Petey." This sheaf was called Old Man, and was placed in an honorary corner behind the table under the holy pictures, to symbolize God's gift of a bountiful harvest. There it would remain until New Year's Day, to invoke the blessing of the spirits which were thought in olden days to haunt the grain fields.
When they returned to the house, Zenobia and Lilli set the table for dinner, which commenced traditionally with the appearance of the first star in the sky. First, Zenobia spread a white cloth over hay and as a centrepiece she placed a kolach, the white Christmas bread, flanked by two loaves of dark bread. There were twelve dishes, one for each Apostle -- beet soup, honeyed waffles, stuffed dumplings, fish jelly, cabbage rolls stuffed with rice, fish fried in oil, fruit compote, poppy seed buns, honey and wheat mixture, braided bread, apple turnovers, prunes, and a drink made from the juice of boiled dried fruits. All had been laid out on the table in decorated dishes and wooden bowls. One large wax candle was lit on the table to symbolize the Star of the East.
Lilli went over to the wooden chest and began to take out their holiday attire -- new ribbons, kerchiefs, woven belts and fresh white smocks. She caressed each garment, for he loved the feel of clean, starched linen and soft silk. "A belt, a red belt for me!" exclaimed Petey, prancing about in his white trousers and white shirt, his yellow hair slicked back. "You look like a buttercup, Petey!" exclaimed Lilli, hugging him.
When she had dressed her smaller brothers and sisters, tied their ribbons and combed their hair, she arranged them in a row on a bench to wait for dinner. She looked outside. The sky had darkened and now the first evening star was faintly visible far over the church. "I see it! I see the star!" she cried. A feeling of holy quietness came over her as she looked into the beauty of the night. In the distance, she could see the lights in the other farm houses. Turning from the window, she contemplated the food, the candles, the kolach on the table and all these gave her the feeling that Christmas Eve had really begun. At this moment, her grandparents arrived, and supper was announced.