Since my heritage is Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn, the foods we ate at Christmas reflected the traditions of these ethnic groups, and the focus is more on Christmas Eve than Christmas Day with the traditional Vilia supper.
I’ll post more about this special custom on December 24th which focuses on Christmas Eve, but the traditional foods served are:
Oplatka (from the word oblata, which means “offering”) – unleavened wafers imprinted with scenes of the Lord’s holy birth, served with honey.
Mushroom soup – usually made of sauerkraut brine and dried mushrooms.
Bobalky (bo-by-ke) – sweet, raised dough or a biscuit type dough sweetened with honey and sprinkled with a pleasant preparation of poppy seed, or browned butter and sauerkraut.
Pagace/Pagach – A thin raised dough baked either in a single or double layer filled with sweet cabbage or mashed potatoes. After baking, it is brushed with butter and cut in pie wedges. We called it “Slovak Pizza.”
Fish – served because Catholics in Eastern Europe observed a strict fast on the vigil of Christmas.
Pirohy – dough pockets, pastry filled with fillings of sweet cabbage, sauerkraut, lekvar, prunes, or potatoes and cheese and boiled, then served with browned butter.
Other foods eaten include dried prunes, apples, nuts, and other items as dictated by family, village or regional customs.
Slovak pastry, known as kolace or strudel-like rolls which are filled with walnuts, poppy seed, lekvar (prune butter) or cheese.
Red wine is also served.
The foods take a long time to prepare. My mother and grandmother would start a few days in advance to make sure everything was ready for the family on Christmas Eve.
Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
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