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Inside the Greater Manchester communities waking up to Christmas Day TODAY


Rob Thompson
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Inside the Greater Manchester communities waking up to Christmas Day TODAY

Source - Manchester News

By - Lilly Tweed

Date - 07-01-2022

For most of us, the new year means taking the Christmas decorations down - and maybe trying some exercise to burn off that turkey and pudding. However, for many the celebrations are just getting started.

Yesterday (January 6), for Ukrainians across Greater Manchester was Sviatyi Vechir (Christmas Eve).

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That means their traditional Rizdvo (Christmas Day) is today.

Celebrations continue through to January 19, the date of Epiphany.

We celebrate Christmas on December 25 following the Gregorian calendar created in 1582, whereas Orthodox Christians, followed in many countries across the word follow the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46BC.

Rizdvo celebrations had to be cancelled across the country last year due to coronavirus restrictions, with caution still being followed this year with the spread of the Omicron variant.

Olga Kurtianyk, chair of the Rochdale branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said: “It’s been a very busy day today cooking meals for this evening.

“Today is a family centred day where people gather together and eat and sing.

“It’s a very important tradition that has been passed down by our parents and is an important part of our way of life.

“Our parents would have grown up doing following this in Ukraine and carried on when they came here over 70 years ago. We now try our best to pass it on to our children.”
Orthodox traditions on Sviatyi Vechir include decorating the house and dinner table with a sheaf of wheat called a didukh to bring a good harvest and singing carols before the traditional ‘holy supper’ (Sviata Vecheria).

When the first star appears in the sky - marking the birth of Jesus - 12 traditional meatless dishes are served, including cabbage soup, baked apples, vegetable stew, and bread.
Olga believes the main difference between this Orthodox Christmas and the modern day celebrated on the 25th is the religious symbolism.

“It’s very much still a religious festival and there’s lots of symbolism throughout the few weeks,” she said.

“We still do give gifts to each other on the 19th (of December) but the rest is very much still a religious festival.”Christmas day tomorrow is marked by going to Church for mass at 10am and would usually be marked by going to the borough’s Ukrainian cultural centre, however, this has been scaled back due to Covid.

“My neighbours give me funny looks when they see my decorations are still up through January but it is a very important part of the tradition,” Olga added.

This is the case through the Orthodox new year on January 14 and when the Christmas period ends on the “twelth night” (January 19) to mark the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
The Bolton branch the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain will be gathering at their cultural centre in The Haulgh for the first time in two years at the end of this month to mark Rizdvo.

The chair, Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn, is ‘grateful’ to have been given time off work and that the Orthodox celebration is still recognised.

He said: “Everything centres around the family for us.

“The 12 nights are for the 12 apostles and we don’t eat any meat or dairy to recognise the animals that gave their stables for Jesus.

“We’re going to be together as a community again for the first time in nearly two years later this month for a big Christmas meal which will be fantastic.

“We would usually go around carolling but have decided not to this year which is a big shame.

“Our parents brought us up this way and our children have really taken it on board too.

“I’ve been allowed time of work and many kids have been allowed time off school which we’re very grateful for.”
Yaroslaw added that the family do still get together on December 25 but today is when celebrations really begin.

“There have been movements to move the Orthodox Christmas day to December in line with everyone else, but that’s usually very quickly denied.

“Христос народився! (Christ is born)”

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