Merry Christmas - Hristos se rodi
For the first time in 19 years, we won’t be celebrating Orthodox Christmas with Tamara’s Parents. Sad to be sure, but whatever the outcome of our COVID clinic appointment is, it must be “Safety First
Hello and welcome to this, the first “real” edition of our newsletter from Čardačani for 2022.
I am writing this on Badnji Dan (6th January), which is really Serbian Orthodox Christmas Eve.
Tamara and I have been feeling “out of sorts” these past days, and tomorrow, Friday, are attending the COVID clinic in Banja Luka. Let’s see what the prognosis is.
We are both fully vaccinated but not “boosted”.
Anyway let’s “Crack On” with this edition.
Our New Year 2022 🎊
Due to the ongoing situation with viruses, especially here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, (which has very low vaccination rates), Tamara and I opted not to attend any of the many traditional outdoors (and indoor) events. We just didn’t feel safe.
In Banja Luka itself, the main party held in the centre of the city seemed to have more foreign tourists than locals. Apparently a huge and I mean huge number of Slovenians had travelled south to enjoy their New Years celebration. Slovenia has much more stricter measures in place.
We did however, walk around “Zimzograd” (Banja Luka’s small Christmas market) the following day. Still a fair few people mingling, but we assessed any risk as low. The market is nowhere near as big or impressive as those in Austria or Germany, or even Zagreb, but the effort does make it worthwhile browsing around.
Not Feeling Quite Our Best
Then it happened. We started to feel achy and very ‘flu like. Miserable in fact. Of course the first thoughts were, “Did we / Do we, have COVID?”
We still had a single unused home test kit, so decided to use it. It was negative.
Bosnia and Herzegovina isn’t like most other countries that have walk in test centres and free lateral tests available, so explaining that to relatives and friends outside the country was an effort. It also hammered home, that while we talk about this country so positively, in reality its far far from perfect.
Our initial plan was to immediately self isolate. Protecting others really is a moral responsibility. We went through all manner of temperature rises, aches and pains, and other symptoms that seemed to come and go.
In the end we decided to book an appointment at the COVID clinic in Banja Luka at the first available opportunity. That’s 7th January at 1015. We will know what’s what by the time you’re reading this, so the result, you’ll find out in the next post here on the blog.
Serbian Orthodox Christmas is Cancelled.
For the first time in 19 years, we won’t be celebrating Orthodox Christmas with Tamara’s Parents. Sad to be sure, but whatever the outcome of our COVID clinic appointment is, it must be “Safety First”
Badnji Dan - 6th January
As with every year at this time, we woke up, had a coffee, and chatted our way into the day. With the sounds of Car Horns and “Celebratory Gunfire”, we went to the window to see the “Badnjak” being driven through the village.
Today it is Serbian Orthodox Christmas Eve and this morning the Badnjak drove through the village here.
The Badnjak is a tree branch or entire tree that is central to Serbian Christmas celebrations.
The tree from which the Badnjak is cut, preferably a young, straight and undamaged Austrian oak, is ceremonially felled early on the morning of Christmas Eve.
As most Serbs today live in towns and cities, the badnjak is often symbolically represented by a cluster of oak twigs with brown leaves attached, with which the home is decorated on Christmas Eve.
While we won’t be sat down with Tamara’s parents, we are determined to make the best out of Christmas Lunch though, together, here in the village.
Whilst we aren’t a superstitious couple, we also don’t believe in taking chances. Tamara therefore has spent an hour making Česnica, the traditional bread that’s eaten at Christmas. She stuffed her pockets with as much money as she could find while preparing this bread. Apparently if you do this, then you’re good to go. Ignore that and, well, a miserable time ahead.
What it’s normally Like
This is a vlog we made a few years ago now, but will give you a feel for what Srpski Božić is like for us 😀
We’re really so much looking forward to “getting back to normal” (what ever that is).
The next post we publish will bring you up to speed.
If you want to find out more about Orthodox Christmas then check out:
Serbian Christmas traditions
A Playlist of videos we have made about Serbian Orthodox Christmas here in Bosnia and Herzegovina
And finally this week
If you want to read back editions of the newsletter, listen to previous podcasts (we have quite an archive now), or catch other content, all this is available on the web interface, just like a regular blog.
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Tamara and I appreciate your faithful readership, your comments, and your generosity!
THANKS SO MUCH ❤️