Christmas Eve: Do not have to eat before the first star and cook 12 dishes?
How to spend Christmas Eve? Is it possible to eat food before the first star appears in the sky? What does the tradition to cook 12 lenten dishes symbolize and does it justify itself? Why is it so important to prioritize: first worship, and only then cleaning-cooking? Read all about it below.
What does it mean not to "before the first star"?
Christmas Eve is the evening on the eve of Christmas. The very word "Christmas Eve" comes from the name of the dish, which, according to tradition, was eaten this evening, - sochi. They were made from soaked wheat grains with the addition of honey, nuts and dried fruits. This dish is also called kutya.
January 6 is a special day for every Orthodox Christian, the last opportunity to get ready for Christmas.Believers hurry to the temples and observe strict fasting: the monastic charter presupposes a malnutrition with the rejection of cooked food and butter.
People say that on this day it is not supposed to eat at all until the first star rises in the sky. What does it mean? Are there any prescriptions in the liturgical books? To answer these questions, you need to look at the features of worship on Christmas Eve.
On the morning of January 6, the Liturgy is served in Orthodox churches, followed by the evening. Then a candle is placed in the center of the church, in front of which the priests sing the troparion for the feast of the Nativity of Christ. A candle burning in the middle of the temple symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, which indicated the path of the Magi to the God-child.
According to Typicon, until the end of the evening, believers do not eat food - in fact, until they light a candle-star and sing a Christmas troparion. It is in this understanding that the expression about the lack of food “before the first star” arose, and in fact - before lunch.
But, as experience shows, people who come to the church on Christmas Eve are significantly fewer than those who understand the expression literally. Thus, a tradition arose among the people not to sit at the table until the “first star” rises in the sky, reminding of an amazing sign for the Magi from the East.
So how to be: eat food after dinner or wait for the evening? Bishop Iona Cherepanovsky, rector of the Ioninsky monastery in Kiev, advises the flock: if you were at a worship service, you can safely come home and sit down to eat. If you did not carry out a prayer feat at divine services and exchanged church services for the preparation of 12 dishes and a festive table for Christmas, then incur at least the feat of fasting. There is only one “but”: strict prescriptions do not apply to the sick, children, the elderly and pregnant.
Why cook 12 dishes?
Folk traditions prescribe to cook 12 Lenten dishes on Christmas Eve. There is even a “pious” explanation: according to the number of apostles. This tradition is especially popular in Ukraine: here they cook kutya, cook dumplings, cabbage rolls with mushrooms, borsch and other dishes.
In the evening, the whole family sits down at the holiday table and has dinner together. On the one hand, this is a good tradition - it unites relatives, gives a festive atmosphere, reminds of the upcoming holiday. But on the other hand, it contradicts the regulations on the severity of fasting. In what sense, if on the table there is not a single meager dish? Let's try to explain.
On the last day before Christmas, the most stringent post
The last seven days of Advent are the most stringent. At this time, even on weekends, fish are prohibited. If you fast according to the rules, then on Christmas Eve you can not eat fish or butter, or even thermally processed food - it’s not for nothing that our ancestors did not eat boiled wheat with honey and dried fruits, but soaked.
Another important rule of fasting is to abide by the measure so that food does not distract a person from prayer. But what happens if you sit at the table, and in front of you are 12 lean, but no less tasty and hearty dishes? With the observance of the measure is unlikely to succeed. Therefore, the believer will go to the night Liturgy, not so much with a prayerful attitude, as with an overloaded stomach.
How to be here: to abandon the age-old traditions that the whole family loves so much, or still prepare 12 dishes? It is difficult to give a definite answer. It is better to choose the lesser of all evils in your case.
What is more important for a believer: a festive table or participation in worship services and the sacrament at night liturgy? Do you want to exchange Christ for household chores? Think about it and do not be discouraged if you do not have time to cook some dishes from the planned menu.In comparison to the joy of the Nativity is the only trivia.