Tradition is important during the celebration of Ukrainian Christmas.
Father Oris Naherniak says Ukrainian Christmas is celebrated 13 days after everyone else observes Christmas because they still follow the Julian calendar. Father Oris celebrations start Friday with the children spotting the first star, signifying the start of supper, which consists of 12 meatless dishes.
"The father of the home leads them in prayer or grace, asking for a blessing of health for his whole family and the hope that they will all be together next year again."
He notes there are three loaves of braided bread signifying God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and have to be made to exact specifications.
"The braided bread has 12 ropes and there are two layers. The first layer has six braided by threes and you put them in the bottom of your baking pan. The next, top layer, you braid six of them and then you braid two [of those braids together], then you braid two, and two more. It comes down to only three braids and you braid them one over the other making a nice round loaf, and that's for eternity."
Father Oris says there is a candle placed in the centre of the braided bread which signifies the star that appeared when Christ was born.
After the meal, he notes they usually sing carols and have carolers come visit each home. As a child, Father Oris says his family would then attend a midnight church service. He adds, in the Ukraine, they call the celebration The Nativity Of Christ Our Lord instead of Christmas.