For us on the Old Calendar the fast is slowly coming to an end, the fast which we began a few days after Thanksgiving, after devouring the turkey and stuffing, we are now approaching another, much greater feast, the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ known commonly in Serbian as Bozic (Bozhich), derived from the word Bog-ich, “little God”, over time it became known as today’s Bozic. And with it come the many folk traditions which actually began three Sundays ago: the third Sunday before Christmas is Children’s Day when we tie up our little ones and they give us gifts to untie them; then Mother’s Day and finally on the Sunday before the Nativity, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers, is our Serbian Father’s day. With our tying and untying one another we tie the bonds of our love for one another. It’s a time when families are closer to together, when it’s cold outside and warm in our hearts….Then there’s the pig which we have to get ready for the feasting (I did mine yesterday with my brother-in-law).
And then of course there’s the main, most sacred Serbian Christmas tradition of the Badnjak (see this homily for more on the Badnjak). I went out with the boys this morning after church to cut down the badnjak and brought it in the house. Tonight after the Vigil and the burning of the Badnjak we’ll come home and have a simple, lenten meal sitting on the floor with straw around us and hidden in the straw are little gifts for the children….