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Pregnant WomanUkrainian Baby Shower

By Tetyana Vdovichenko

Our child's birth was a very pleasant and long expected event by us.  My husband and I re-read many books on how it is necessary to have correct meals per day during pregnancy, we went together to meetings with the doctor, and we even were sick together in the mornings ... Then at last, it happened! There were minutes of pain behind, fear, tears of pleasure and the first shout of our baby. Hi, our sonny, we've waited for you so long time …

After several days our daddy took us home: the little sonny in a sleeping bag and me, newly-made mother.

Wow, we're at home!

There were a lot of pleasant surprises already waiting for us: a cot with ruches (a gathered ruffle), bears and beautiful canopy, a convenient carriage and delicious supper carefully made by our daddy.

And further days were much alike and flashed, as in a kaleidoscope, as 2 drops of water: to feed, shake, put to bed, change clothes … However, every day my husband and I became increasingly confident parents, and our sonny pleased us with something new: he could peep in a new manner, or he could see in a special way.

Nine days passed, and then the next day a big family holiday was planned - our Maxim's christening (хрестини). We worried about it very much.

Nowadays in Ukraine there are no special traditions or holidays connected to the future parents. But when parents give birth to their child, the most important holiday to the family is the child's christening. Once only married women who had children were allowed to visit the newborn baby, but now friends, fellows and colleagues come to see a newborn baby. Usually they bring expensive gifts and lots of food to release the still-recovering mother from the anxiety connected with the hosting a gathering. 

Parents select the godfather and godmother carefully from their own and kindred spirit people. As a rule, it's impossible to refuse the offer to be godparents. Furthermore godparents keep in touch with their godchild and give gifts on birthdays and Christmas.

We invited my sister to be the godmother, and the godfather is my husband's best friend. 

After the child's christening, the parents do a small reception at home or in a cafe.

Eventually this significant day arrived.  Relatives prepared for the ceremony all morning. Maxim was dressed in a beautiful white suit. The priest and visitors soon arrived, candles were lit, and the christening ceremony began. A small little table was covered with a dark velvet cloth where the priest put the Bible, candles, wheat in a soup plate, and the silver bowl filled with holy water.

At the appointed time for the ceremony the priest entered into a room and passed to the small table with the Bible.  Visitors parted to let him pass. The godmother brought the child and, with the godfather, stood behind the priest. The gathered visitors stood behind them. The priest prayed to God, the candles flickered, and everyone present prayed for a happy life for our sonny.

Then the priest anointed with Christ our child’s forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, breast, hands and feet - for consecration all his feelings, affairs and behaviour. Then the priest transferred the baby to the godfather’s hands for a monastic vow. He cut locks from four sides: over ears, behind and in front on the head, and then burned it on a candle. After that, our son was dipped into water, a gold cross on a chain was put on him (the cross was presented by the godfather), and relatives and guests congratulated and presented gifts.

Ukrainian baby showerThen we had a holiday dinner. It is very important to serve "granny's" special pies (бабині пироги). These pies are baked from a rich yeast dough and they have various form: buns, rolls, small loafs, hearts, lilies, roses, pretzels, shoes, the hare ears, the mutton small horns.

In the past these quite often intricate, amusing, ridiculous and lovely rolls were made not only by bakers craftsmen but also by many housewives too. But gradually this interesting kind of culinary art came to be forgotten because Ukrainians preferred to buy pies and cakes in shops - that's why only some people serve the table with these lovely ceremonial treats. Nowadays, at the end of christening dinner, parents can present sweets and baked goods to guests. But that’s not a rule.

A christening should be short because, with a new baby in the house, the young mother needs to take care of him.

Now we recall with a smile this important day for our Maxim, and we wish our sonny a long and happy life.

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