In Ford City, baking a holiday tradition
FORD CITY – The comforting aroma of freshly baked bread wafted through St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church on Thursday morning in preparation for Christmas.
While the Rev. John Gribik gave communion to a handful of parishioners, several others, including his mother, Mary Ann, were busy in the basement kitchen kneading and baking about 200 round loaves of prosphora for Christmas Eve.
Mary Ann said the prosphora (which means offering in Greek) is made of flour, water and a small amount of yeast and represents Christ, the bread of life.
According to George Madzy, 84, the church has been baking the traditional bread every year since 1950.
After all the trays of golden loaves had cooled, Fr. Gribik gave them a blessing and a sprinkling of holy water. Each one was bagged up and distributed to the parishioners to take home and share during their family meal on Christmas Eve.
Mary Ann said that according to the Eastern European tradition, the patriarch of each family blesses the prosphora at the start of the meal before cubing it up and dipping the pieces in honey.
“My dad would bless my mother with honey and she in turn would bless each of us and say ‘May you be sweet like honey,'” said Mary Ann.
“We never were,” she added with a laugh.
Jean Meleason, 77, recalls Christmas Eve when she was a child.
“We never turned on the Christmas lights until the Christmas Eve supper,” she said.
A single candle was lit and placed on the table to represent the star of Bethlehem lighting the way.
“In our tradition we refer to God as the light,” said Meleason.
She still continues those traditions, including the scattering of straw under the table on Christmas Eve to represent the manger.
But the younger generations doesn't seem as interested in continuing those traditions, Meleason said as she, Mary Ann and Marcey Hospodar, 86, loaded up trays with 3-ounce portions of dough.
“We hardly have any young people helping us. The young ones can't keep up,” said Meleason, adding that since most households today rely on two incomes there is little time to devote to some of the more time-consuming preparations associated with the season.
So for now, the tradition of preparing prosphora is being kept by those few who are willing and able to share it with others.
Meleason plans to host a family Christmas Eve supper for 35, so she figures she'll need at least three loaves of prosphora.
“I'll have plenty of food – I just don't know about the table space,” she said.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Strike planned at ACMH Hospital in East Franklin on Tuesday
- Manor police increase patrols in 2-month trial
- North Buffalo man charged with distributing child porn
- Kittanning business gets new revenue stream
- Madison woman seeks help finding fugitive goat, sheep
- Armstrong schools put television programming online
- Parker armed and ready for revitalization push
- Bond reduction denied for boy accused of fatally shooting Leechburg man
- Ford City woman injured in crash
- Letters show Ford City had chance at cutting debt by more than $450K
- Rescuers find lost Mahoning teen using cellphone location