Russian Christmas Celebration: Kutya and Vzvar Recipes

Posted on January 4th, 2012

Kutya and Vzvar are served at Russian ChristmasRussian Christmas is coming up and it’s time to think about your Christmas dinner plans.
As you may already know, Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th.

If you are planning to stay at home and celebrate Russian Christmas with your family or loved ones, you could make a celebratory Кутья [koo-T’YA] Kut’ya, also known as Сочиво [SO-chee-va] Sochivo and Взвар [VZVAR] vzvar, a beverage made out of stewed fruit – both Russian traditional Christmas dishes.

In my article “Christmas Magic in Russian Culture” I’m giving more tips on how to celebrate Russian Christmas.

You can find out why a Christmas tree is decorated for New Year’s eve instead of Christmas eve in my article “Russian New Year Celebration”.

You can also learn Chrismas words and expressions in Christmas video lessons:
Celebrating Christmas in Russian. Video Lesson 1.
Christmas in Russian. Video Lesson 2. 

Today we will talk about Kutya and Vzvar that are served at Russian Christmas dinner. Kutya is a symbol of remembrance of diseased, while Vzvar is served to celebrate a birth. Serving both dishes on Russian Christmas eve is a celebration of the birth, life and death of the Saviour – Jesus Christ.

Kutya and Vzvar are usually served at the beginning of the dinner on Сочельник [sa-CHYEL’-neek] Sochelnik or Christmas eve.

There are many versions of the original Kutya recipe that is traditionally made out of wheat and fruit. However, some modern recipes call for rice instead of wheat, with sugar or even jam. Today, I’ll share Russian Kutya recipe that is made out of wheat, honey and raisins and a traditional Vzvar recipe.

Russian Christmas Kutya Recipe

1 cup of wheat
4 cups of water
½ cup of raisins
½ cup of ground walnuts
½ cup of poppy seeds
Honey to taste, or 2-3 tbs
Salt to taste (if needed)


1. Wash wheat in cold water, then put it in a bowl or a pot and soak it in water overnight.
2. Pour water out, and wash wheat again. Place wheat in a pan, then add 4 cups of water and cook for a few minutes until it’s ready, you can add more water if needed.
3. Meanwhile, put the poppy seeds in a bowl, pour water over them, cover the bowl and leave it to stand for at least one hour. Then pour water out and grind them using a food processor, a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.
4. Put the raisins in a bowl, pour boiled water over them, cover and leave for 20 min, or until they swell, then pour water out.
5. When the wheat is cooked, add honey (you can also add a little salt to taste, if you like), ground walnuts, poppy seeds and raisins. Serve it in a bowl. Enjoy!

Vzvar Recipe

2.5 oz of dried apples
2.5 oz of dried apples
2.5 oz of dried prunes
You can also use any other dried fruit or berry
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, to taste
2-3 liters of water, or 8-12 cups

1. Wash dried fruit in warm water
2. Put the dried fruit in a boiling pan and add water and cook on a low heat for 30 min.
3. If you are adding other fruit or berries to Vzvar, you can add them now, then add sugar, allow to boil, and then cook Vzvar on a low heat for another 5-10 minutes until all fruit is soft.
4. Let it stand for a few minutes to an hour, and then serve for your Russian Christmas dinner.

I hope you will enjoy these recipes and will have tons of fun on Sochelnik (Russian Christmas eve).

Have you tried Kut’ya or Vzvar? Did you like these dishes? I would love to hear from you!

Счастливого Рождества, всем моим читателям! :)
(Happy Christmas to all my readers!)


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