The Holy Supper Makes Bethlehem Present

In Ukrainian homes throughout Canada the eve of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated with the home becoming the stable in Bethlehem where the Christ child is born. To this day straw is often spread throughout the dinning area. The evening begins with the search for the first star. Family and friends gather on the Eve of the Nativity of Christ for a lenten feast, during which time a search for the gift is organized. Christ's incarnation restores creation to its original blessedness. The twelve dishes of the meal are drawn from the whole of creation: field, garden, ocean, orchard and wildernes, and they are served in the context of a household liturgy.

On this night of wonders even the animals are feed from the festive table, for, as Slavic folklore says, it is at midnight of Christ's birth that all creation is given the gift of speech and you wish to insure that the animals speak well of you.

The Eve of Nativity does not stand alone. Rather, for Orthodox Christians throughout Canada the meaning of this night is cultivated throughout the year. The liturgical calendar is structured around the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ. Through its various feasts, associated with the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) and with Christ, the faithful are called to recognize the gift of creation, the incarnation of the divine, and the human created in "the image and likeness of God."