BELGRADE – Millions of Orthodox Christians around the globe are celebrating Christmas. Christmas is known worldwide as a family holiday of happiness, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ.
Besides Serbs, many believers in Russia, Ukraine , Syria, Egypt , Georgia, Macedonia, and Ethiopia mark this holiday on January 7th. Although practices vary from country to country, the Christmas holiday is all about forgiveness and reconciliation.
Orthodox Christians who celebrate Christmas on January 7th do so because they follow the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the new Gregorian calendar followed by the majority of other Christians.
From early Christmas morning bells on all Orthodox churches and temples can be heard, people wear ceremonial clothes and go to church to attend Christmas liturgy.
One of Christmas traditions, with which this holiday begins is coming of “Polozajnik” to the house. Polozajnik is the first one to came in house on Christmas. Usually it is a man or a boy. He congratulates Christmas to the hosts and blesses the household, with wishes for healthy and a successful year.
Early in the morning Christmas bread is knead, the so called “cesnica”. A coin is put in it, and plays the role of the Slava cake at Christmas. When chesnica is ready, it is brought on the table, where Christmas lunch is set up. Cesnica is broken into as many parts as there are members of the household. The one who gets the part of cesnica which has a coin, according to a popular belief, he will be the luckiest throughout the year.
On the first day of Christmas people do not go anywhere out of the house, but the family stays together enjoying lunch and a warm family atmosphere. Christmas lunch is the first big lunch after a long fasting and should be rich and varied, and marked by two indispensable elements: cesnica and sirloin. Lunch is the most solemn moment of Christmas.
The second day of the holiday is an opportunity to visit friends and relatives.