What is eaten for Christmas Eve and Christmas

Food as an important part of tradition

Friday 4th of January 2019

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The biggest holidays for the Serbian Orthodox Church, Christmas Eve and Christmas are respected without exception. There are different opinions about what should be eaten on 6th and 7th January. The modern age has changed rituals in nutrition, but the basic food has remained unchanged for centuries.

Christmas Eve is the last day of the Great Fast. On 6th January, all families are together, they do not go out and the only reason to leave the house is because of work. Traditionally, a cake (bread) called badnjaca is baked. Only water and flour, without yeast. You will not make a mistake by adding a few grains of dried fruits to the dough.

Dried fruits, wheat, honey and wine are mandatory in every house and are kept on the table all day. Only fast food is eaten, prebranac - Serbian baked beans, fish, sauerkraut, torshi (pickled foods), pies with walnuts or cherries. Dinner is the main meal and it was once served on the floor, and today it is eaten at a table below which a little straw is put. Although there is a far greater choice of foods than in ancient times, however, it is not the point in abundant meal, but in family gathering, peace and love.

Food on the day that marks the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas is completely different. The modern era has a new tradition, more precisely a lot of specialties for family members, friends and, of course, polozajnik (the first person who visits the family on Christmas Day). A Christmas cake or cesnica with a coin, dry grapes, a piece of badnjak (oak tree branch) and dren (Cornel cherry or Cornelian cherry dogwood) is always broken, never cut with a knife.

On 7th January, at almost every table there is pork meat - pecenica. The next in popularity is lamb. It is the matter of choice who will prepare what for Christmas, but Russian salad, dried meat products, cheese, boiled eggs, ajvar, sarma, podvarak, baked potatoes are usual. Fruit is mandatory. Desserts are there of course, and often, both cakes and cookies are made.