(Due to multiple hack attacks over the past two weeks from a certain area in the world (!), this should have been posted earlier. We apologize for the delay. Looks like every other post is messed-up, too…. Please bear with us!)
Tonight is Christmas Eve in Russia with special foods simmering, folks heading out to church, and the table spread with a white pillar candle (the Light of the world), bread, honey, and 12 holiday foods. For your benefit, I’m including a vocabulary of Russian holiday words for January 7th.
1. Rozhdyeestvoh – Christmas
2. Rozhdyeestvohm! or S’Rozhyeestvohm Xristoh’vweem! – Merry Christmas
3. Tserkov’naya sloozh’bah – church service
4. Pravohslav’naya tser’kov – Orthodox church
5. Semyay’nee oo’zhin – family dinner
7. Padar’uk – gift
8. Kahlyad’kee – Christmas carols
In our neck of the woods, a winter chill has descended, and it feels a bit like Velikii Ustug, the town in the north of Russia where Dyed Moroz (Grandfather Frost) is said to live. So get out the kutya’ (wheat berries, poppy seeds, and honey — add other goodies at will, whether raisins, cinnamon, almonds, or walnuts).
As with any Old Country cooking, kutya takes time, soaking it the night before, boiling it for hours on end until the kernels burst open and the fluid is thick and creamy. Think of it as a kind of brown rice-like, berry-like, granola-like pudding, Russian-style, with little poppy seeds that must be dealt with before one dares to smile. If the whole procedure sounds too much, keep in mind that there are cans of premade kutya in most Russian groceries. Maybe stock up as Plan B, lol.
Well, the hay is on the table, the animals (Misha and Grisha the Scottish Terriers) are under the table, Benedetto is memorizing his Russian lines and I already know mine. The children gather in holiday finery, eyeing buttered potatoes with parsley, savory mushrooms, all of the courses and tradition yet to come.
Xristohss Rozhdah’etsya — Prahslav’tyeh Evoh! (Christ is born — praise Him!)
————–Tags: Adoptive family customs & culture, foods for Orthodox Christmas January 7th, kutya wheat berries, Russian Christmas Eve Jan. 6th, Russian Christmas traditions, Russian family holiday dinner