By Mo Cranker on January 12, 2019.
More than 100 Hatters gathered Friday evening at St. Patrick’s Church to celebrate Ukrainian Christmas.
Though it actually happened last week, the group wanted to plan a big get-together so Hatters, Ukrainian or not, could celebrate the evening and have a good time.
“More than anything else, this is about having fun,” said John Cherwonogrodzky, who helped organize the evening with his wife Karen-Anne. “We’ve got 100 people out here tonight and a lot of them are bringing food with them.
“We know we’re a bit late but we have a really great crowd of people coming and we know it’s going to be a fun night for everyone.”
As people arrived at the church John blessed each of them by dipping his finger in honey, drawing a cross on their forehead and wishing them success in the New Year.
“When the guests start to arrive the head of the household greets everyone and blesses them with honey,” he said. “There’s so many traditions on display tonight and the honey is one that everyone experiences.”
Attendees were also greeted by an axe to protect them from evil, a candle for the traveller, a bird’s nest and wheat. All of these are staples at Ukrainian Christmas celebrations.
Cherwonogrodzky says there are a number of differences between Ukrainian Christmas and the Christmas on Dec. 25.
“A lot of people celebrate both,” he said. “Traditionally with Ukrainian Christmas, people would do presents on Dec. 19 on St. Nicholas Day.
“There’s always spending time with family and a number of plays and skits and dancing that goes on.”
Cherwonogrodzky says there was plenty to choose from on the food side.
“We’ll have all of the classics, one of the most popular is perogies,” he said. “There’s cabbage rolls, fish to symbolize Jesus, big tubs of borscht and so many more that people are going to love to try for the first time. For people who have had them already, then they’ll know what to expect out of each dish.”
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