To teach children the importance of remembering loved ones after they have fallen asleep, in the Lord.
GOYA (Jr. High and High School)
Preparing for the Session
Koliva is traditionally prepared for “Saturday of the Souls.” There are many ways to make Koliva. We have provided a recipe for your convenience. If you would like to substitute your own recipe, please feel free to do so. Making Koliva can take a long time. Due to this, the wheat needs to be boiled ahead of time. The other ingredients need to be prepared and ready to mix with the wheat. Everything should be set and ready to go when the young people arrive. Depending on the number of young people you may want to make several small trays or bowls so that they are all able to work on decorating a tray.
Prepare yourself for leading this session by becoming more familiar with the Orthodox teaching on death and everlasting life. Review the bible passages discussed in this session, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and John 12:24. If possible, read the following article entitled “Talking to Children about Death” by Albert Rossi & Fr. John Schimchik. This article is available at:
This session may bring up some feelings in young people that they have never before experienced. For this reason, it is important that your parish priest be available during this session to provide support should any of the young people have a difficult time with this topic. It is also equally important that parents have a fundamental understanding of the topic. Be sensitive of those who may have experienced a loss of someone close to them.
- Several Bowls to mix the ingredients in
- Mixing spoons
- Trays to put it on
- Wax Paper
(You will need to adjust according to the size of your group)
- 4 cups shelled wheat
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2½ cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2-cup finely ground zwieback or graham crackers
- ¼ to ½ lb white Jordan Almond
- ½ to ¾ cup raisins, golden
- 1½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1½ cups slivered almond
- 1-cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup chopped mint or parsley
- Pomegranate seeds
Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me your commandments. Give rest, O God, to your servants and place them in Paradise, where the choirs of the saints and the just, O Lord, shine like stars. Give rest to your servant who has fallen asleep, overlooking all of their transgressions.
Before the Session
(2 days before)
Cover the wheat with 2 quarts of water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Cover with 4 quarts of water in a large heavy pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered several hours keeping the wheat covered with water and stirring occasionally until wheat becomes puffy and tender. Drain in a colander, rinse and drain again. Spread the wheat out on a smooth dishtowel to dry overnight.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the work of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. –1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
(Accept all answers and reflect back)
What is this passage saying?
State: Today we are going to make Koliva.
Can anyone tell me what you know about Koliva?
State: Koliva is made of boiled wheat mixed with sugar and spices. It symbolizes the eternal cycle. People like wheat, must be buried to grow and have new life. We make it for memorial services in remembrance of those who have fallen asleep.
Why is it important that we remember those who have fallen asleep?
State: It is important to remember and pray for those who have passed on to keep their memory alive and to help us heal. As Orthodox Christians, we believe that intercessions on behalf of the dead are possible through the fervent prayers of those remaining on earth. We are a church made up of both the living and the dead.
State: Now we are going to make Koliva. We are going to begin by singing the hymn “Eternal Be Their Memory” and we will continue praying by reading prayers from the memorial service as we make the Koliva.
Note: We recognize that there are many different ways to make Koliva. This is one recipe. You can follow your own or bring in someone from your church that regularly makes Koliva to help. More important than recipe is that this is done prayerfully and that all the young people get to contribute.
Since you will have already prepared the wheat, tell the teenagers what you did to prepare it. Divide the young people into small groups of around 5 people. Divide all of the ingredients equally so that each group can prepare a small bowl of Koliva. Have the groups combine all of the ingredients in the bowl except for the powdered sugar, zwieback crumbs and decorations. Mix the ingredients well. Have them put the mixture in the bowl (put wax paper down first) and mold it into a smooth mound. Spread the crumbs evenly over the top, making sure the wheat is thoroughly covered, and press down. Sift powdered sugar over the mound and press smooth with wax paper. Have the young people make an appropriate symbol (cross with initials of those being remembered, cross with ICXC NIKA ) using the Jordan almonds on the top.
Hand out a piece of paper to each young person and a pen. Ask them to take 5 minutes of silence to remember those who have passed on. Have them write out the names of those they want remembered during the memorial service. At the end of the five minutes, read the following and close with prayer.
Most assuredly, I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much grain. – John 12:24
For you, O Christ our God, are the resurrection, the life and the repose of your departed servants, who have fallen asleep and you we glorify together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen
Discussions about memorials and death can be sensitive and difficult for some young people. For this reason, it is very important that the parents know what you have discussed with them. Print information about this session and how to make Koliva for parents to have. There is a family session available on the website for the Greek Orthodox Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. It can be accessed in the family activity section at :