Russian Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar will observe Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on Jan. 6 and 7. Christmas Eve is steeped in tradition and anchored by a meatless meal that can number up to 12 or 13 courses. For strict Orthodox Christians, Advent is a period of strict fasting which means no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and, for some, even fish. But this meatless Holy Supper meal
is far from boring. It's a chance for creative cooks to pull out all the stops with dried fruits, nuts, pickled vegetables, dumplings, grains and, oh, the list goes on and on. An interesting start to this meal is kutya
a porridge of wheatberries (or rice, barley or beans) sweetened with honey and garnished with poppy seeds, walnuts and sometimes raisins. It is eaten out of a communal bowl by the family to symbolize unity. One tradition has a spoonful of kutya being flung up to the ceiling. If it sticks, a bountiful harvest is predicted.
If you can't get your hands on wheatberries or don't have the time to make it yourself, Deli to You Direct
is a good source for the canned Polish version known as kutia
, which is identical to Russian kutya.
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