Tonight, the 6th of January, is Christmas Eve in the Serbian Orthodox Christian tradition, which celebrates religious holidays according to the Julian calendar (approximately 13 days behind the calednar we all use on a day-to-day basis).
Celebrations on Badnje Veče (Christmas Eve) centre around family meals and the burning of the Badnjak – similar to the burning of the Yule Log in other Christian traditions. Burning the Yule Log is a tradition dating back to before medieval times when the fire came to represent the light of the Savior, but it’s also the symbol of love, community and family life. On Christmas, Orthodox Christians greet each other with “Christ is born”(“Hristos se rodi”) and respond with “Truly He is born”(“Vaistinu se rodi”). Christmas Eve brings families and friends together for a warm and cheery celebration.
Today the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church held oversaw the burning of the badnjak ceremony in front of the small church by the St Sava Temple and held an evening liturgy in the main temple itself. Other badnjak burning ceremonies took place in front of churches around the capital with people gathering to contribute a bouquet of crispy oak leaves to the main fire. For the first time in Belgrade, a badnjak burning ceremony will take place in front of the Ružica church, in the Kalemegdan fortress.
So, happy Serbian Christmas everyone!