Christmas time

For many Christians Christmas Day is over. This Monday comes the holiday known as Christmas for the Orthodox community.

Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar was in use at the time of the birth of Christ and is presently 13 days behind the civil Gregorian calendar. That means Jan. 7, on the civil Gregorian calendar is Dec. 25, Christmas, on the Julian calendar.

Christmas time is surely the most cheerful time of the year and is celebrated by all Christians around the world. There are many reasons to celebrate Christmas: most people celebrate the holiday because it allows us to spend some cheerful time with families and have the pleasure to give and receive gifts.

I’m the one who usually runs straight home after work. I don't like to shop. Up to Christmas Day the malls are usually filled with bright lights and thousands of people in motion, people who can’t be still, people who are never satisfied. You can look out the window at all the people, all ages and races, lost in a search. They all look like pleasure seekers in an aquarium swimming from place to place, like scavengers, in search of  food. They actually are looking for perfect gifts or something to make them feel good.

For Orthodox Christians Christmas Day is not about giving and receiving gifts. That is what thay do on January 1st. Christmas Day is a time to heal the soul. It is also a time of peace and unity. They are reviving traditions learned during their own childhood and have passed on to their own children. It is a celebration time prefaced by 40 days of fasting.

Christmas Eve services traditionally begin with the blessing and burning of the Badnjak, or yule log, along with the traditional Christmas vigil service. Grejana Rakija, traditional hot drinks will be served following the services - a beverage composed of sugar, hot water and plum brandy. The traditional Christmas feast includes a centerpiece of green wheat symbolizing life and rebirth, and cesnica, or the traditional round bread, which is baked with a coin inside. The person who finds the coin is said to have special blessings throughout the year.

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