Psenica: A Serbian Christmas Custom

Psenica: A Serbian Christmas Custom


Bozicna Psenica-On the feastday of St Nicholas, which occurs on December 19th in the Old Calendar, wheat grains (žito) are planted in a small bowl or plate for this Serbian Christmas custom. After the Lord’s Prayer is recited, the seeds are watered and left to grow for the remainder of Advent.

The grains grow green shoots, a Biblical metaphor for Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection – symbolic of new life.  The green shoots are bunched together with ribbon and a candle, then placed at the center of the family table on Christmas. 

After the Christmas period has passed, the Psenica is taken out into the garden. The person bringing it to the garden crosses him or herself, then scatters the Psenica in a place where no person or animal will tread, leaving it for the birds.

Instructions to grow wheat

Spread about 1 cup of žito over a flat surface or bowl on top of a thin layer of cotton wool. Spray with water several times a day. Place a candle in the middle after about seven days.

Warning: be careful not to over-water or mold will grow. If too dry, the wheat will die.

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Chris Vlahonasios

Chris Vlahonasios is the owner of Transfigure Media and founder of the Byazanfest film festival, the world’s only online Orthodox Christian film festival streaming the very best short and feature-length films.