This Sunday, once again, we come together for our “spilna kutia”: the holy supper of Sviat Vechir, now repeated with our church family. The symbolism of this Spilna Kutia (community kutia) is profound. Let’s remember and honour its significance.
We have this kutia during Theophany.
The Early Christians commemorated the Jordan Baptism long before they celebrated Christ’s nativity. The baptism of Jesus revealed the Trinity: God as a community of Love—not the Zeus-like powerful master, but the essence of Love, flowing ceaselessly from self to other and to other. This was and is the shocking revelation in the Jordan River.
Why do we share the Christmas Eve meal with our parish family?
Our “spilna” kutia reflects our understanding of Trinity as community. The Kutia symbolizes our interconnection. We are one body in Christ. Through the Trinity, we recognize that we are each equal temples of God, yet we are not whole without each other. All creation bears God’s light and together we illuminate life. Like the African concept of “ubuntu”, “I am because we are”, we cannot be content if others suffer.
Why is “kutia” so central to the Christmas cycle?
Kutia is a powerful symbol of life. Despite its endless variations in Ukrainian kitchens, essentially kutia is comprised of 3 ingredients: cooked grain, poppyseeds, and honey. The recipe predates Christianity, yet we know that even in ancient pagan traditions, it was used as a ritual food, carrying deep symbolic significance that today is reinforced when we see that the miracle of Christ’s birth reaches all creation and all time: past as well as present and future.
What’s so special about these 3 ingredients?
Whole grain (wheat). Wheat is a symbol of life. It grows from a tiny seed and eventually becomes the “daily bread” that nourishes and sustains us. Without food we die. Even one spoonful of kutia consists of multiple grains. In life we cannot exist in isolation. We need each other to live. Wheat harvests not only provide food, but also the seeds for future sustenance. Wheat is a metaphor for all humanity, generations past and still to come. The meaning of grain, on reflection, is not finite—we could think of ever more and deeper ways it reflects our being.
But what about poppyseeds? Honey? Mixed with the significant grain, the dark, bitter seeds symbolize the dark, bitter elements of existence that become palatable with the goodness and sweetness of life—symbolized, of course, by the honey.
Together this dish of kutia, consumed during the times we especially celebrate God becoming human, becomes sacred in itself. God with us (Emmanuel) is life itself. We, as a family, as a community of faith, share this gift of life. We share God in each other.
Let’s remember, as we take part in this spilna kutia, that our body and soul are nurtured and enriched by belonging to our parish community.