On Monday, January 7th, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas, the most joyous Christian holiday. It is celebrated in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. People normally begin this day by serving Service at Church, lighting “Badnjak” on fire with family and loved ones, breaking “Cesnica” (a holly bread) and enjoying the first day of not feasting after 40 days. Our ISC family still holds their Christmas decorations in-tack and cannot wait to spend this joyous holiday with the smallest, newest member of the family – baby Matea.
Prior to this great day there are many smaller holidays which take place. One of the most interesting ones for children are “Materice” and “Paterice”, celebrated on December 30th and January 6th. The customs of these two days require children to wake up earlier than usual (this is never a problem for Maxim who wakes up at 7 am) and tie both parents with some kind of rope or string. Maxim has only recently heard of these holidays, so curiously waited for his parents to arrive to tie them up explaining “this is the ritual, guys”. Of course, these are all cute, simple ways how Maria and Marko explain Maxim the meaning and customs of holidays.
How long do holidays last in your home? How do you celebrate Christmas and which customs do you practice? If you want to try marking Orthodox Christmas the traditional way, try baking a “Cesnica” (holy bread) and placing a coin in the dough. This is a famous Serbian custom – it is believed that when the “Cesnica” is broken, whoever gets the coin will become rich that year. Maria took the opportunity to share her recipe for “Cesnica” with us today in hope that you will try to make it too.
– 2 eggs
– 1 cube of yeast
– 500 ml milk
– 1 kg flour
1. In a bit of lukewarm milk, dissolve the cube of yeast.
2. Add one egg yolk to this mixture, a pinch of salt and gradually combine whilst adding flour and milk at the same time.
3. Knead the dough, cover it with a clean cloth and let it rise.
4. When it starts to grow, knead it again and let it grow again.
5. Form the “Cesnica” the way you want, put in a coin, and coat it with a layer of egg yolk.
6. Bake in a heated at 180 degrees until it becomes golden brown.
7. If desired, decorate it with various shapes such as circles, religious symbols or other prints.