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How we celebrated Russian Christmas

We adopted a baby girl from Russia who is now 2. I also have a 9 year old daughter of my own. russian christmas We thought this might be a good year to establish some Russian tradition and teach my older daughter a bit about Russia.

I'm not quite sure if we celebrated right. Anyhow, Jan 6 we had a traditional 12 course Russian/Ukrainian meatless meal when the first star appeared. We began the meal with a with a blessing of honey and broke bread, dipped it into first honey (sweetness of life) and then chopped garlic (bitterness of life). We ate a total of 12 dishes symbolising the 12 apostles.

Our family exchanged gifts around a spruce tree (I know it should have been fir but they are not too plentiful here) decorated with glass balls, candy, wooden toys and some decorations I had brought back from Russia.

That night my daughters hung up stockings and left black bread for Father Frost and Babushka. Father Frost left presents under the tree and Babushka filled stockings and left candy on windowsills.

From what I understand the legend of Babuska is that she was a simple housewife who offered rest to the wisemen following the star to Jesus. She wished to bring baby Jesus some black bread, but instead of travelling with the wisemen she decided to finish her housework before leaving. When she was ready to leave it was daylight and snowing and the star and the tracks of the wisemen were gone. Finally she found her way to Bethlehem, but the baby was gone. She laid down to rest in the stable where Jesus was born and died in her sleep. Now she travels to each house on Christmas Eve filling stockings and looking through windows for the Christ child.

Our menu wasn't quite authentic. I'm afraid I cheated and tried a few dishes containing milk and cheese from a couple of Russian cookbooks. We had Borshch, Potato cakes with mushroom sauce, Pashka (I know its for Easter but I had to try it) Cheese Crepes, Cranberry Kissel, Lazy Vareniki, Potato Shanezhki, Kasha, Ritual wheatberry and poppyseed cereal, and Sturgeon poached in white wine ( I couldn't find Sturgeon, so I substituted salmon).

The best was the potato cakes. The worst was the cooked buckwheat, although I have to admit that I did eat it in Russia...but I remember now that I put a lot of jam into it. My friend said she remembers her Ukrainian grandmother frying it with bacon and onions. I think I will try that next year.

Here is the recipe that I used for the potato cakes:

1 lb potatoes, 1 egg, 1/2 cup flour, 2 tbsp margarine - Cook potatoes, drain, mash while hot mix with egg, flour and butter. Form into patties and fry.

4 oz mushrooms, 1 1/2 cups stock made with vegetable cube, 1 tbsp flour, 1 onion, 4 tbsp margarine.- Chop and fry mushrooms and onion in 2tbsp margarine. In separate pan melt 2 tbsp margarine, add flour, stir in vegetable stock and cook for 5 minutes. Add fried mushrooms and onion and pour over potato cakes.


By Wendy

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