Christmas Eve Day for us on the Old Calendar has finally arrived. When we, in the Serbian tradition, go and seek out a Badnjak, a Yule Log. We Serbs have named this day after this tree, so it’s not, technically speaking referred to as Christmas Eve Day but Badnji Dan. And tonight after the Christmas Eve service in church we will go out for the ceremonial burning of the Badnjak. Each family also brings in a small Badnjak into their home. Hence, me and the boys, after this morning’s liturgy made our way out into the wilderness (which quite conveniently is right behind the church parking lot) and found ourselves a nice, small, young Badnjak which we have brought into our home and it rests against our fireplace. We’ll bring straw in too, later. Then we’ll sit on the floor and have our last lenten meal this evening before the big feast tomorrow and the pig (which, by the way, is already roasted and waiting patiently in the garage; there is sarma and cheese and many, many more things which I probably shouldn’t think too much about now).
It’s an old pagan custom, it is. But we also bear in mind the words from Vespers, “And when Thou becamest human from the spotless one, the worship of many gods also ceased.” We bring in the Badnjak, pagan or not, for the worship of all other and different and strange gods has come to an end. A child has been born unto us.
And Him we glorify.