Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage: Christmas Traditions

This is the final post in my 2019 series about various aspects of Carpatho-Rusyn history and life. I hope you’ve enjoyed it – I’ve learned more about my heritage as I’ve researched each topic.

We are well into the Christmas season so it is fitting that this month’s topic covers holiday celebrations and traditions in Rusyn life.

Christos Razdajetsja! Christ is born!
Slavite Jeho! Glorify Him!

Rusyns begin preparing for Christmas forty days beforehand, on 15 November, the day after the feast day of St. Philip the Apostle. Fasting and prayers last until Christmas Eve day when the Holy Supper meal is prepared and the Vigil of the Nativity of our Lord begins.

In the weeks before Christmas Eve, animals, homes and people are cleansed in preparation for the birth of Jesus.

The Holy Supper consists of either seven, nine or twelve courses with bread biscuits, mushroom soup, stewed fruits and vegetables, nuts and fish. No meat is served at this meal.

As day turns to night, the first star seen represents the Star of Bethlehem, leading the way to baby Jesus. Village carolers visit each home and when the church bell is rung, everyone walks to church for the service, called the Great Compline.

Families return to church on 25 December for the Christmas Divine Liturgy.

Christmas festivities continue on until the Feast of Theophany on 6 January, called the Epiphany in the Latin rite.

This is a very simplified explanation of the Christmas holiday season, as there are variations among Rusyn peoples.

Here are some links with much greater detail and descriptions than I have provided:

A Carpatho-Rusyn Christmas Tradition – Rusyn-Americans in Pennsylvania

Carpatho-Rusyn Christmas

Carpatho-Rusyn Christmas Eve Dinner – YouTube

Holy Supper / Christmas Eve in the Carpatho-Rusyn Tradition

Rusyn Christmas Customs

Slav Christmas Customs from the Carpathian Mountains

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