Serbia is celebrating Christmas today! While much of the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus on 25th December, in Orthodox Serbia church bells toll across the country marking the beginning of the three-day festival on 7th January. The Christmas celebration in Serbia blends Christian symbols and pagan traditions. It involves a lot of logs, straw, sparks, clucking – and hearty food.
Serbia is celebrating Christmas
We celebrate this great Christian holiday in the family circle. It is important to celebrate in the soul, in prayer and communion with the family. Christmas in Serbia has numerous folk customs, which give the celebration of the feast of Christ’s birth a special charm and make it a favorite. We have a whole bunch of weird and wonderful traditions of our own, some drawing from pre-Christian times.
In many homes, Česnica will be baked in which a coin will be placed. Badnjak will be brought into the house and the wine will be drunk. Položajnik will be welcomed as a very dear guest who should bring good to the family. On this day, as a rule, Serbs make the most beautiful and delicious lunch. As a warm starter, there is usually sarma. As the main course, there are pork roast, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, and other seasonal salads. For dessert, there are different tasty cakes and sweet pastries.
There are two beliefs about what the family should do after lunch. Some believe that every task a person begins on Christmas Day is a blessing, so they start the job that they intend to occupy throughout the year. Others, meanwhile, believe that a person will continue doing whatever they do on Christmas throughout the year, so most Serbs believe it is best to spend the day doing things they enjoy the most with the people they love the most.
After a day of family bonding, everybody looks forward to drinks on Serbian New Year’s Eve, of course. It is the last flash of the festive season in Serbia.
Christmas Eve Badnjak lighting
In Serbia, the main Church is the Orthodox Church and we still use the old ‘Julian’ Calendar. That means that Christmas Eve is on 6th January and Christmas Day is on the 7th January! People celebrate Christmas with services at all churches and monasteries to mark the birth of Christ. This year was no exception because Serbia is celebrating Christmas as if nothing is happening.
The traditional Christmas Eve Badnjak lighting was yesterday at around 4 p.m. in front of the Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade. Also, The Christmas tradition of breaking bread was in front of the temple. Tradition has it that whoever finds the coin in the bread baked for Christmas will have luck all year. The clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church and a small number of believers were present. This year, due to the pandemic, there were no so many people as previous ones. Still, believers who decided to attend the lighting of Badnjak, adhered to epidemiological measures, and most of them wore masks. All this did not disturb the solemnity of this event.
After the liturgy people usually go straight home to celebrate.
Peace of God! Christ is born!
More than Belgrade team wishes a Merry Christmas to all our Orthodox readers. We wish you pleasant holidays spent in the circle of your loved ones in joy and peace. Also, let this be a year full of love and happiness. Due to the general epidemiological situation, unfortunately, not everyone is able to celebrate it together with whom they would like. However, let’s be patient and strong, sincerely believing that all this will not last long.
It remains for us to inform you about further events this month in Belgrade and to wish you to spend the Christmas holidays in peace, happiness, and health. Celebrate Christmas as it should be, in the family circle, so that this Christmas brings you only the best.
Peace of God! Christ is born!