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Hristos se rodi: Merry Christmas to our Orthodox community members

So why are you celebrating Christmas today, Anja and Todor?
"This dates back to when the big calendar changes were introduced: The Orthodox church still follows the old Julian calendar, whereas the Catholic church follows the Gregorian calendar."

That explains the date difference. How about the celebration?
"The tradition is that January 6th is Christmas eve and this is the last day of Christmas fast. On this day we bring a special tree into our house, an oak tree, called Badnjak, which will bring you luck, prosperity, love and happiness. People will go into the forest early in the morning before the sun rises and cut a piece of young oak and bring it home. In the evening we will go to church service and there will be a huge bonfire where people gather and put the young oak in the fire to wish for the good spirit in the coming year."

"On Christmas Day, January 7th, we celebrate with a special kind of bread, a round bread, the Česnica, and we put a coin inside. Each family member gets a piece of that bread, and whoever gets the lucky coin which is hidden inside will have a fortunate year with good health, lots of love, money and whatever you wish for. You hope to get the largest piece so you can better your chances. It's not really a special recipe, it's the shape and how you decorate it that makes it special. You can decorate česnica with different Christmas symbols made of dough. What's special about the bread is that you make it early in the morning so it's ready and warm when all the family members wake up so you can share it together and see who will be the luckiest in the coming year."

"Today is the day when you go to church and take communion. Christmas Day is all about spending time with your family, enjoying the food, the bread and some spirits and if you're lucky it will snow, which we are [smiles and points to the window]. And enjoying time with your loved ones."

"A lot of people have been fasting for several weeks, so for the Christmas lunch we eat a lot of meat together with potatoes, a traditional Serbian dish called sarma and salad. In Serbian cuisine meat has an important place and Christmas is the best example of it. It's usually pork that people serve, but there are of course variations."

"We have a special greeting at Christmas, you say 'Hristos se rodi', which means 'Christ is born', and the person you greet will confirm that Christ was born by saying 'Vaistinu se rodi'. This is very traditional and people will greet each other whoever they meet on this day."

On this happy note: Hristos se rodi, everyone!

Todor is our Athletic Coordinator and he has just come back after his paternity leave.