Friday, January 1, 2016

Celebrating Ukrainian Christmas

Christmas card sent to my grandmother in 1939.

Christmas postcard from my Grandparents' collection

Many Ukrainian people celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the Julian calendar. The holiday begins with a dinner on Christmas eve, January 6.  The traditional dinner is made up of 12  meatless courses.  The meal started out with Kutia, a pudding made from wheat and include borscht, pickled herring, freshwater fish, holubtsi (cabbage rolls), vareneky, kolach, a three layer bread, pumpushki (jelly donuts) and honey cake and other pastries.
I am including my personal recipe for Ukrainian style Borscht, which is vegetarian and can be served on Ukrainian Christmas Eve. Check out the recipes from Yaroslava Surmach Mills on the postcards below.

Photo source: Claudia's Cookbook

You will need a large saucepan or stockpot.


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 bunch beets with stems and leaves.

4 cups vegetable broth (I like Pacific brand)

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1-2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1-2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped

1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced

Chopped greens and stems from the beets.

1 package fresh spinach or one bunch of Swiss chard, washed and coarsely chopped, include stems

1 large can diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 large can low sodium tomato juice

1 tsp dried dill (optional)

Fresh dill weed, chopped

Sour cream or Greek yoghurt
salt and pepper


1.     Cut stems and leaves off the beet roots, don’t throw them out.

2.     Soak the beet leaves and stems and rinse twice to remove any sand. Discard any tough leaves.

3.     Wash and peel beet root and chop into cubes.

4.     Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan or stock  pot.

5.     Add onions and garlic and cook until transparent

6.     Add celery and carrots to vegetables in the pan, cook for about 5 minutes

7.     Add broth, tomato juice, tomatoes, beets and potatoes bring to a boil, then and turn down heat and simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

8.     Add beet greens and spinach. Simmer until greens are cooked down, about 10 to 15 minutes.

9.     Optional--Add dried dill to soup. 

10.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

11.   Serve with a spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt.  Sprinkle dill weed on sour cream.

Check out the link to learn about celebrating Ukrainian Christmas.
More about Ukrainian Christmas

Postcard and recipe by Yaroslava Surmach Mills

Postcard and recipe by Yaraslava Surmach Mills