Serbian Christmas

The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of several Eastern Orthodox Churches that celebrates Christmas and New Year on the Julian Calendar instead of the more common Gregorian Calendar. Some of the Orthodox Churches celebrate on December 25 (Greek, Cypriot, Romania), but most like Macedonia, Russia, etc. have the holiday on January 7th, 13 days after the 25th of December. We attended the service at the largest Orthodox Cathedral in the world on January 6th, Saint Sava’s Cathedral in Belgrade. This is our final year in Serbia and it is a tradition of our family to go to the service and toss the badnjak (Oak Tree Branch) into the fire. Ocean did it this year as you see above. This ritual dates back to the Slavic pagan yule log and the tradition of fire of the family hearth and the winter solstice should all resonate with us. I am very curious what Europe would look like today if Christianity never spread out of the Levant. Would we be burning the oak in honor of Perun? 

Orthodox mass (I was raised Catholic) is much different than the Catholic services I grew up with. Most of the service is sung in A capella and as usual, people came and went during the mass in the huge St. Sava Cathedral. The video I took below will give you a little taste of a Serbian Orthodox church service. Last year I attended the Serbian New Year services, and hope to do so this year on January 14.

As they say in Serbia on Christmas, Христо се роди!


Happy (Julian) New Year


The fireworks above St. Sava’s Cathedral in Belgrade last night signify the Srpska Nova Godina or Serbian New Year. The Serbian Orthodox Church, along with some other Orthodox churches, traditionally celebrates the Julian Calendar New Year, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar this century. Hence, on January 13th, the Serbs celebrate another New Year with a mass, firework show, and concerts and parties around the city.

I went down to St. Sava’s last night to catch all the fun. I’ll be posting videos later today. I think any excuse to party is cool, and acknowledging Julius Caesar’s (or his team of astronomers) calendar from 45 BC is very interesting. I had a sense of solidarity with the Serbians in attendance. It was a contrast of the holy service occurring inside and the drinking and fireworks occurring outside.

I was excited to use my new iPhone last night to capture video of the event and I will post later today when I get a faster video connection.