January 01, 2020

A Dish for All Seasons

A Dish for All Seasons
Rice Kutya Nikolai Donetsk

January 7 is Russian Orthodox Christmas, which brought to mind a Christmas dish. But then research showed that the chosen one, kutya, or sochivo as it’s also known, is much more than a winter holiday treat.

The recipe for kutya actually dates back to Ancient Greece – it translates simply as “boiled grain” – and has been served in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus at funeral feasts and in the lead up to religious holidays, yet it’s also well known to other Slavic nations. Its main component, grain, has always been a symbol of eternal life and rebirth, and it was believed that by eating kutya, people became a part of the endless circle of life.

The poppy seeds and nuts added to the dish symbolize fertility, and by adding them people would “program” their families to attain abundance, wealth and generosity. This is why, in addition to religious holidays and funeral feasts, kutya has often been cooked for the weddings and to celebrate the birth and christening of children. The honey in the recipe that is used to sweeten the dish symbolizes the pleasures of eternal life.

Digital Subscription Required

Get unlimited digital access for just $2 a month.

Don't have an account? signup

See Also

Winter Holidays

Winter Holidays

A colorful mix of pagan and Christian traditions influenced 19th century rural Russian Zimniye Svyatki (Winter Holidays). While many of these traditions did not survive the 20th century, they nonetheless tell us much about Russian culture today.
Christmastide Tradition

Christmastide Tradition

St. Nicholas, Babouschka, Christmas Eve festivities . . .Ded Moroz leading to Christmas on January 7th.
Seven Kasha's To Live By...

Seven Kasha's To Live By...

Seven types of kasha to last you all winter – from farina to kutya, and everything worth eating in between...

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602