January 17, 2008

Orthodox Christmas

Because the Serbs follow the Julian calendar Christmas comes two weeks later than that of Roman Catholics. The 6th of January, in the morning, the habit is to go in search of badnjak (oak branches with leaves) and to put straw around the fireplace, to simulate the connection with the earth. Usually, Serbs put coins, walnuts, almonds, dry figs on the straw, all the gifts for the children. The traditional January 6th supper for Serbs is religious diatary meals, usually fish. Christmas Eve supper is very rich even if it is always meatless meal.
In the morning of January 7th, Christmas, the first person that enters the home is called "polozajnik" and he's offered"zito" (boiled wheat Christmas speciality) and black wine. For breakfast the habit is to prepare "cicvara" (a dish made of flour, eggs, butter and cheese) and to serve it with small dry cakes, dry figs and rakija. (plum brandy). All persons gather around the table, family and guests, while the father lights the candle. That moment marks the start of "mirbozenje" (peace and reconciliation). Partecipants than kiss one another at Christmas time while saying: "Mir Bozji". If there were any disagreement, all are forgotten.
During the entire Christmas day a custom is to replace a classic: "Hello" or: "Good day" with: "Hristos se rodi" (Christ is born!) and as greeting in reply: "Vaistinu se rodi" (Really born he is!)
On Christmas day, lunch is very rich. In contrast to Christmas Eve that relates to All Souls’ Day, Christmas relates to the cult of agriculture. Nowadays, in the cities, before lunch the family throws the straw under the table (man’s relation to the earth).Traditionally essential part of the Christmas dinner is a type of flat, round Christmas bread called "cesnica".

If you have enough of the Western Commercial Christmas with zillions of presents and stressful shopping-frenzy, come and see the peaceful Serbian Orthodox Christmas celebrated in church with big fire in front of the building and hot rakija served at the exit.

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