5 things you didn't know about Orthodox Christmas

Saskatoon's Drozdovskyy family are Ukrainian-Canadian and are celebrating Orthodox Christmas on January 6 and 7.

Saskatoon Ukrainian-Canadian family talks about Christmas in January

Valentyna Drozdovskyy is helping her mom make potato onion perogies for their Orthodox Christmas dinner on January 6. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC News)

For many people, Christmas is over.

But that's not the case for the Drozdovskyy family. They are Ukrainian-Canadian and are celebrating Orthodox Christmas on January 6 and 7.

"It's very important for Ukrainian families, for sure. I remember when I was small and lived in the Soviet Union, it was a different situation. We can't celebrate like we celebrate now," Liudmyla Drozdovskyy said.

The holiday kicks off on January 6 with a holy meal. Here are a few more Drozdovskyy's traditions they share with other Orthodox people:

  • The 40-day Nativity Fast. The Drozdovskyy family fasts from meat and dairy for 40 days before Orthodox Christmas. They break their fast on January 7. Liudmyla fasts from all food and drink, except for water on January 6 until dinner time.
  • The holy meal uses specific ingredients. It consists of 12 dishes, including perogies, cabbage rolls, beets, borscht, and potatoes. The 12 dishes represent Jesus's twelve apostles.
  • White tablecloth on the holy dinner table. The table is set with an extra place for the spirits of family members that have passed on. 
  • Under the table cloth, the Drozdovskyy's place three things: A bunch of wheat to signify a rich harvest, garlic to ward off evil spirits, and a bit of sugar as a wish for a sweet life.
  • The family gives away treats, including apples, cookies, candies, and chocolate to neighbours after dinner on Orthodox Christmas Eve.

Valentyna Drozdovskyy, 12, said she helps her mom make Christmas cookies and prepare the holy supper. She's excited for Christmas.

"I just really want to be together and pray and be together as a family," she said.

The Drozdovskyys say Christmas is the most important holiday to them.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?