Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Since the Very Grasses Sprouted Seeds

When Ukrainians gather for Christmas Eve supper, the first dish is served in ritual fashion.  It has been so for ever.  The ritual gift of belonging, of public acknowledgement, of acceptance and embrace - the gift of love - this is kutia.  The boiled wheat, honey and poppyseed dish speaks of ancient times of honour, of challenges met, of adventures and tragedies which trace the history of a people. Kutia says we have been here since the very grasses sprouted seeds, and we will be here for as long as the grasses sprout seeds.  Our lives may be sweet, they may be darkened as a consequence of our temporal lives, frail and human, but we will endure.

I love this entire Christmas cycle and know the extremely wide-flung diaspora of the Ukrainian nation endures simply because of the one important gift we share - we believe we will endure.  Many generations have made the grand exodus from Ukraine to lands where economic opportunity beacons, but just as many generations will one day seek their origins.  Whether the language, the culture, the values, the traditions endure depends entirely on family choices - but the remarkable genetic code that links us with our ancestors cannot break, come what may.

As you sit with your family over this holiday season, whether kutia or holubtsi or pyrogies are on your menu is irrelevant.  Do you care to know the illustrious journey of your ancestors?  Who are your heroes? And what will the future bring?

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