On December 20th in Kyiv, the holiday tradition of the Christmas Wafer was celebrated at the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary, inside the Catholic Media Center.
Clergy and members of religious orders, as well as employees and volunteers of the Caritas-Spes charity mission of the Catholic Church in Ukraine, were on hand: Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradyuk of the Kharkiv-Zaporizka Diocese and the first president of Caritas-Spes Ukraine, his deputy and current president of Caritas-Spes Ukraine Father Petro Zharkovskii, and general secretary of Caritas-Spes Ukraine Father Viktor Simon, as well as other priests, nuns and lay people attended.
The festivities were also joined by Father Oleksiy Samsonov and others from Radio Maria. During the event, children from homes run by the nuns and volunteers of Caritas-Spes Ukraine performed in a folklore ensemble.
The children received gifts from Saint Nicholas, while both children and adults received Christmas wafers and wished each other a happy New Year. At the end of the evening’s events President of Caritas-Spes Ukraine Petro Zharkovskii presented the sisters who run the children’s homes of Caritas-Spes with vouchers from Ingo medical center for free medical examinations for the children of the homes.
A Christmas wafer is unleavened bread baked in the form of a thin chip. It’s made from wheat flour and water but no yeast. It symbolizes the body of Christ. From the earliest times, the breaking of bread has symbolized a coming together, and thus the wafer is also a symbol of community and love.
The Catholic Church has preserved the following very beautiful tradition of the sharing of the wafer bread: First, the whole family gathers around the holiday table to sing carols by candle light. They pray, and the head of the family expresses holiday wishes on behalf of everyone. Then all the members of the family express holiday wishes to each other, breaking off a piece of the wafer to share as they do so. Sometimes they hug each other warmly and then boldly consume the bread.
The wafer occupies a central position on the table. All other dishes are placed around it. The shape of the wafer allows for it to be easily broken into pieces.
The Caritas-Spes Ukraine family cares for children, orphans, the elderly and refugees from Ukraine’s war zone. It runs over 20 children’s homes throughout Ukraine. It provides free medical care and distributes medicine to the poor, warm clothes and footwear to the homeless, as well as charitable services in Ukraine.
Shown in the photos:
- The sisters of the Caritas-Spes family together with a child from one of the children’s homes managed by the religious charity mission;
- children at the celebration being greeted by Saint Nicholas;
- waiting for gifts.
– Group photo
– Vouchers from Ingo medical center for free medical examinations for the children of the homes.
– Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradyuk of the Kharkiv-Zaporizka Diocese blessing the wafers and holiday food.
– Sister Anastasiya who manages one of the Caritas-Spes centers in Kyiv
– Sharing of the wafers
– Driver Yevhen, a former resident of a children’s home himself.
– President of Caritas-Spes Ukraine Father Petro Zharkovskii