In Serbia Orthodox Christmas is celebrated according to the Julian calander, 13 days after the Catholic Christmas, which is the 7th January. In Serbian Christmas Eve is called “Badnje veče” and it is truely a beautiful gathering with a lot of customs.
Here an interesting extract from the book “Servia, Youngest Member of the European Family” by A. A. Paton from 1848, which describes these customs very well:
At Christmas, for instance, every peasant goes to the woods, and cuts down a young oak;
as soon as he returns home, which is in the twilight; he says to the assembled family,
“A happy Christmas eve to the house;” on which a male of the family
scatters a little grain on the ground and answers,
“God be gracious to you, our happy and honoured father.”
The housewife then lays the young oak on the fire, to which are thrown a few nuts
and a little straw, and the evening ends in merriment.
Next day, after divine service, the family assemble around the dinner
table, each bearing a lighted candle; and they say aloud, “Christ is
born: let us honour Christ and his birth.”
People gathered around a huge fire, with an oak tree on fire, enjoying the Christmas eve after the mess in the church.
The more sparkles you get when you burn your oak tree branch, the more prosperous your year will be.
Afterwards a dinner will be served at home with fish, bread and soup and sweets afterwards. You’ll sit on the ground with hay on the floor, just like in a Christmas stable… . After the dinner there is fireworks and people enjoy the evening in a family setting. Then the next day it is of course Christmas and much more celebrations and customs will follow.
Srećan Božić !!! (=Merry Christmas )