Christians of the Eastern Rite celebrate the Christmas Eve. On January 6, the holiday is marked by all Ukraine’s Orthodox Churches, Jerusalem, Russian, Serbian and Georgian Orthodox Churches, as well as ancient monasteries at Mount Athos, Greek Catholics, Armenian Apostolic Church, some groups of protestants and Coptic Orthodox Church.
According to the Biblical story, on this day in Bethlehem, Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ. The shepherds were the first to greet the newborn. Later, wise men from the East visited the boy with the sacraments.
The Christmas Eve is the final day of the Christmas Lent.
It is a custom at Christmas Eve to restrain from having a meal until the first star rises in the sky. Afterthat, thebelieversbegintocelebrate. Another widespread custom is to put 12 Lenten dishes. The next day, churchgoers can also have meat.
Singing carols is also an inseparable part of celebrating Christmas in Ukraine. The carols are called “kolyadky” in Ukrainian. Those who sing them walk family-to-family, bringing people the great news – the birth of the son of God. The family gathers at the festive table, saying “The Christ is born! Glorytohim!”
Patriarch Filaret, Leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate will lead the all-night vigil on the occasion of the Christmas. The service will be held in the St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv.