Holiday time is approaching. Festive time also brings us a festive mood. Wallets will become thinner and tables rich!
Christmas is often called the happiest holiday for Christians. It is believed that Christmas brings happiness, love, and harmony. Christmas is a day to celebrate family and family values.
Christmas - The happiest holiday among all holidays
Christmas is celebrated for three days. The first day of Christmas is celebrated on January 7 according to the old, ie December 25 according to the new Julian calendar. In all Orthodox churches on the eve of Christmas before dawn, all the bells ring, Rifles echo announcing the arrival of Christmas and Christmas celebrations. The solemnly dressed host takes the family to the Church for the morning and Christmas liturgy.
After the service, a plate is received, which is eaten before serving. Housemates, friends, and passers-by greet each other with "Christ is born!", And according to the custom, they should greet with "Truly he is born!". That is how one should greet until the Epiphany.
Christmas Eve precedes Christmas morning and connects Christmas Day and Christmas. As it gets dark, the host should bring Christmas cake, and straw into the house together with his sons or grandsons. Christmas Eve is brought in first, and after Christmas Eve straw is sprinkled all over the house. Customs dictate that the housewife pour sweets into the straw under the table where Christmas lunch is eaten, which the children will collect while "beeping"
Dinner on Christmas Eve is always fasting and in our region, usually dried fruit, prebranac (a special dish made from the beans), and fish are prepared, whether dried or fresh.
Christmas cake – „Česnica“
On Christmas Eve or early in the morning Christmas, the housewife kneads a special cake which is also called „česnica“ or Christmas bread. A coin - gold, silver, or ordinary - is placed in the Česnica or Christmas cake, pierced from above with a Christmas tree twig, and such a bread (cake) has the role of a celebration cake that is served on Christmas. In some parts, dogwood is placed in the Christmas cake, which symbolizes health. When the Christmas cake is baked, it is brought to the table where Christmas lunch is served. The host cuts a piece of Christmas cake for Christmas lunch (usually the left shoulder, head, and part of the ribs). When everyone is at the table, the host lights a candle, burns incense icons, a censer, and everyone is present. After that, he hands over the incense burner to a younger person who smokes the rest of the house. If no one knows how to sing the Christmas Troparion, then "Our Father" is recited aloud.
When the prayer is over, the Christmas cake is broken. The Christmas cake is broken into as many parts as there are family members. Also, the customs order that three pieces be removed, one piece is intended for a random guest "intentional traveler", the other piece for a "positioner" if he is not present and one piece for family members who are not there.
According to popular belief, a person who receives a piece of Christmas cake with a hidden coin is lucky all year round, and the host presents it with a gift or a banknote. If you find yourself in the role of "intentional traveler", every good host will serve you a good glass of brandy, and after a period of fasting on a rich Christmas table, you will often find a "traditional Serbian delicacy" - cracklings.
How to prepare Christmas cake
As a rule, Christmas cake should be prepared by the hostess on Christmas Day or early in the morning before Christmas breakfast. It is usually mixed with wheat flour, and where possible, water from a spring or well is used, into which a handful of grain is thrown. Special attention is paid to such water, calling it strong, beneficial water. Next, you will need sugar, salt, oil, eggs, milk, and yeast to prepare the Christmas cake.
There are different customs of how the dough is prepared. An interesting custom comes to us from the east and south of Serbia, where the host or housewife who prepares the Christmas cake should catch fruit, cattle, and beehives with glued hands from the dough. In this way, it is believed that it will make them more fruitful.
In Vojvodina, on the other hand, Christmas cake is prepared in a sweet cake bidet. As a base, thin crusts are used, which are filled with honey, sugar, and walnut filling. Also, in some parts, we can find stuffing with poppies and dried fruits, usually grapes.
What are the customs in your family? Do you prepare Christmas cake and how do you do it?