Sweet grain pudding, traditionally served in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine
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Kutia or kutya (Belarusian: куцця; Russian: кутья; Ukrainian: кутя) is a ceremonial grain dish with sweet gravy traditionally served mostly by Eastern Orthodox Christians and some Catholic Christians predominantly in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, but also in parts of Lithuania[1] and Poland during the Christmas – Feast of Jordan holiday season or as part of a funeral feast. The word with a descriptor is also used to describe the eves of Christmas, New Year, and Feast of Jordan days.[2][3][4]


The word kutia is a borrowing from the Greek language κουκκί (bean) or κόκκος (grain).[5]

In Ukraine

In Ukraine kutіa is one of the two essential ritual dishes at the Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper[6] (also known as Svyata vecherya). The ritual significance of kutia, as well as uzvar, is quite ancient. Ukrainian ethnographer Fedir Vovk traces the origins of these dishes to the Neolithic era. Before dinner, the kutia is placed in the icon corner ("kut") , the most honorable place in the house where religious icons or images are placed. The pot with the kutia was to stand there in a designated spot from Rizdvo (Christmas on December 25) to January 1, New Year's Day (formerly January 6 to the Old New Year in January 14).[7] There is also a custom of sending children with kutia to relatives, usually grandparents and godparents. After dinner, the kutia is left on the table for the whole night with spoons for the dead ancestors, "so that our relatives would have dinner and not be angry with us." The religious nature of the dish is emphasized by an ancient custom, when the head of the family approached the window or went out into the yard with a spoonful of kutia and, addressing the frost, invited him three times to take part in dinner with the family. When the frost does not appear, he is advised not to appear, not to do harm to crops, etc.: "Frost, frost, come to us to eat kutia, and if you don't come, don't come for the rye, wheat and other crops."[8][9][10]

Kutia is the first out of twelve dishes served for Svyata vecherya to be tasted.[11] The head of the family takes the first spoon of the kutia, raises it up and calls out to the souls of departed family members to join them on this night. He then tastes the kutia, and throws the rest of the spoonful up to the ceiling. In rural towns, as many kernels of grain as stick to the ceiling, there should be swarms of bees and newborn cattle in the coming year. In the same vein, if there are many poppy seeds that remain on the ceiling, there would be a chance for more hen should lay as many eggs in the coming year than usual. In cities the same would imply a prosperous new year for the family and also a show of remembrance for their rural roots.[12] Everyone present eats a spoonful of kutia, after which the other dishes are brought out and eaten.[13]

The main ingredients used to make traditional kutia are wheatberries, poppy seeds and honey.[14] At times, walnuts, dried fruit and raisins are added as well. Kutia is a Lenten dish and no milk or egg products can be used in this – since December 24 is a paramony – strict fasting and abstinence – day in the Eastern Orthodox Church and in Byzantine Rite Catholics. There are known kutia recipes that use pearl barley or millet instead of wheatberries.[15]

Kolyvo is a Ukrainian ritual dish similar to kutia, but includes no poppy seeds. Kolyvo is served at remembrance services.

In Poland

Polish kutia

Kutya is known in Poland as kutia and kucja,[16] where it can be served as part of the Twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper,[17] though its origins predate Christianity in Poland and can be traced back to customs of the Slavic Native Faith.[18] However, it is eaten primarily (though not exclusively) in the eastern regions of Podlasie, the Lublin area, and Subcarpathia, near the borders with Belarus and Ukraine.[19] It can also be commonly found among Bug River Poles and other generations with ancestry in the Eastern Borderlands, who are scattered across all of Poland.[20] Besides Wigilia, kutia is also served on New Year's Eve and other special occasions, such as wakes.[18]

Traditional old Polish kutia is made using wheat, poppy seeds (ground in a special pot called makutra), honey, raisins, walnuts or hazelnuts, almonds, and vanilla; some recipes also include milk or śmietana.[17] Kutia is sometimes prepared using rice or kasha instead of wheat.[20][16]

A number of customs and rituals in Polish tradition, such as fortune telling, are associated with kutia. This is particularly true for older generations and rural areas of eastern Poland, as well as their descendants who can be found across all regions of Poland.[20][19] Kutia is also eaten among the Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities living in Poland.

Other countries

Kutya and didukh as part of Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas celebrations

A dish of boiled grains (usually wheat berries) mixed with honey, nuts, spices, and a few other ingredients is traditional in other countries[21] as well:

Somewhat similar, but with a different origin, and somewhat different ingredients, is the Islamic, especially Turkish, sweet dish of Ashure.

See also

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  1. ^ Sfetcu, Nicolae (2014). About Christmas. p. 217.
  2. ^ Білодід, Іван (ed.). "Кутя". Словник української мови в 11 томах (in Ukrainian). Київ: Наукова думка.
  3. ^ Даль, Владимир (1905). Кутия (in Russian). Санкт-Петербург-Москва: Товарищества М.О. Вольф. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Крапіва, K, ed. (1977–1984). Куцця (in Belarusian). Менск: Беларуская Савецкая Энцыклапедыя. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  5. ^ Мельничук, О, ed. (1989). Кутя (PDF) (in Ukrainian). Vol. 3. Київ: Наукова думка. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  6. ^ "Recipe: Kutia, Star of the Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper". Archived from the original on 2015-03-25. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  7. ^ Василь Скуратівський. Русалії. — Київ: Довіра, 1996. — С. 532—533. ISBN 966-507-028-2
  8. ^ Чубинский П. П. Календарь народных обычаев и обрядов. — Київ: Музична Україна, 1993.
  9. ^ Записано в селі Двірець Заславського повіту Волинської губернії.
  10. ^ Хведір Вовк. Студії з української етнографії й антропології. — Прага: Український громадський видавничий фонд, б/р. — С. 183.
  11. ^ Stechishin, Savella 1959, Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, Trident Press, Winnipeg
  12. ^ Килимник Степан 1964. Український рік у народніх звичаях в історичному освітені Toronto
  13. ^ Yakovenko, Svitlana 2013, Taste of Ukraine: Rustic Cuisine from the heart of Ukraine, Sova Books, Sydney
  14. ^ Artiukh, Lidia 2001, Ukrainian Cuisine and Folk Traditions, Baltija-Druk, Kyiv
  15. ^ Yakovenko, Svitlana 2016, Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper: Traditional village recipes for Sviata Vecheria, Sova Books, Sydney
  16. ^ a b "Kutia". Słownik PWN. Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2024-02-07. kutia, kucja reg. «tradycyjna potrawa wigilijna, przyrządzana z gotowanej pszenicy, kaszy lub ryżu i utartego maku, z miodem i bakaliami»
  17. ^ a b "Kutia II". kuchnia-polska.net. Kuchnia polska. 2002. Retrieved 2024-02-07. Uwagi: jeżeli chcemy przygotować tradycyjną polską Wigilię, wśród 12 obowiązkowych potraw na naszym stole nie może zabraknąć kutii. [...] Staropolską kutię przygotowywało się z pszenicy, maku (ale nie mielonego, tylko utartego w specjalnej donicy - makutrze), miodu, rodzynków, orzechów włoskich lub laskowych, migdałów i wanilii.
  18. ^ a b "Kolędnicy, dodatkowy talerz na stole i kutia, czyli pogańskie korzenie chrześcijańskiej Wigilii". rmf24.pl. RMF 24. 2012-12-22. Archived from the original on 2013-11-28. Retrieved 2024-02-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  19. ^ a b Lasota, Piotr. "Etnografia Lubelszczyzny – cykl roczny w życiu wsi – grudzień". teatrnn.pl. Ośrodek „Brama Grodzka - Teatr NN”. Retrieved 2024-02-07.
  20. ^ a b c "Na mojej Wigilii zawsze była kutia". swiecie24.pl. Świecie24. 2012-12-27. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2024-02-07. Na mojej Wigilii zawsze była kutia [...] Opłatek, kutia biała i ciemna. Biała była z ryżu, ciemna z pszenicy, ale wszyscy jedli białą. Kutia zawędrowała z nami aż do Świecia. [...] Mama scalała rodzinę, przygotowywała potrawy tradycyjne, polskie, wszędzie jednak na stole pojawiała się kutia.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  21. ^ Goldstein, Darra 2015, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, Oxford University Press, Oxford

External links

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