Христос се роди! Ваистину се Христос роди! Christ is Born! Indeed He is Born!

Христос се роди! Ваистину се Христос роди! Christ is Born! Indeed He is Born!

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The above words are the first words that Serbian Orthodox Christians use to greet each other during the Old Calendar Christmas. But, before and after those words are said, a lot of tradition must be kept to. On Christmas Eve, the Serbians attend vespers just as everyone else does, but on this night, we also have a tradition that is unique to us. That tradition is the burning of the Badnjak, which is a tradition similar to the burning of the Yule log in other nations in Europe.3 christmas

Early on the day before Christmas, men gather at their church and go to the woods together in order to cut down the badnjak. In the United States, we usually have an agreement with a park service about this. Once the badnjak is cut down, it is brought back to the church and divided into smaller pieces, so that everyone can grab some for their home.

After vespers, the priest, men, and the church choir go outside. The priest blesses a part of the badnjak, and this part is burned outside. Then the priest blesses the rest of the badnjak, and it is given to the parishioners. Next, an older man from the church throws walnuts and candy for the kids to gather, signifying the joy that is coming and the gifts that the three magi gave to Christ.

The next morning after matins and Liturgy, parishioners head to their homes, and before the sun comes out, the family stands around the table, oldest to youngest, and walks around the table three times while singing the tropar of the Nativity of Christ. Then, everyone kisses each other three times on the cheek while greeting each other with the greeting of “Christ is Born! Indeed He is Born!” Then, each family has a polaznik, which is the first child who comes to their house. This child burns a part of the badnjak to signify the coming of the Lord into this world, and to bring 2 christmas-1light to the family. The child is then given a gift in return for being the polaznik.

Before the polaznik comes, the family also breaks the cesnica, which is a special kind of bread made just for Christmas. It is a similar concept to the Greek vasilopita. The cesnica is made by the oldest woman in the family, and a coin is placed inside the cesnica. Whoever finds it is said to receive great blessing from God during the year. After the cesnica is broken, it is dipped into warm honey and the fast is broken with it and typically a roasted pig. After this, friends and family spend the day visiting each other and greeting each other with the words “Hristos se Rodi! Vaistinu se Rodi!”


Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+

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Sandra Glisic

Sandra Glisic is a 19-year-old Serbian Orthodox girl who moved to the United States in 2005. She is currently a junior in college, and she is majoring in psychology with a minor in business: non-profit organizations and church management. She enjoys writing, reading Orthodox novels, and reading classics, especially Jane Austen.

Sandra teaches Sunday school at her parish along with working for the Youth Department of New Gracanica and Midwest-Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. You can see the social networking sites she runs in the following links: Youth of the New Gracanica-Midwest-Diocese Facebook Page, Instagram: StSavaWay, Twitter: St.SavaWay, tumblr: st-sava-way, and last of all, pintrest at SOC Youth.

She babysits as a part-time job, and hopes to one day work with children. Her free time is spent with her family, friends, and in her favorite women's monastery, where she likes to unwind and truly come closer to God. She also loves watching tennis, especially the World's Number 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic. He is a great inspiration to her, because he truly shows that when we have more, we should share it with those who don't. Sandra loves decorating and organizing events. Church is the most important thing in her life, and she loves Orthodox chanting, and has an obsession (and a vast collection) of icons. She blogs about the experiences she is having as an Orthodox teen and how Orthodoxy affects her life day to day as she moves on to adulthood.