In Ukraine, 12 dishes are traditionally served on the table, according to the number of apostles. All Christmas dinner dishes are lean: no meat, milk, eggs or fat.
The main dish of the Holy Evening is kutia (sochivo). It’s cooked wheat porridge with honey. Kutia symbolizes fertility and wealth. The father of the family throws the first spoonful of kutia up, and the children catch it. This custom symbolizes the continuity of the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation.
The family starts the dinner as soon as the first star appears in the sky.
Before starting to eat, they light a candle and remember the deceased relatives. It is believed that it is on the Holy Evening that the souls of relatives gather in the house, a plate and a spoon are also put on the table for them.
Despite the fact that Christmas is a purely family holiday, it is important to invite single friends to the table, regardless of their religion. Any stranger, including a beggar, is invited to join the table. There is a belief that on this day God can appear under the guise of a beggar. After dinner, the funniest part of Christmas Eve comes – gift giving time.