I’ve been able to drag out the holiday festivities over many weeks. The last was an Orthodox Christmas Eve Breakfast.
I warmed up a gorgeous Christmas ham, and baked biscuits and scones.
I baked apple cardamom and zucchini nut muffins, and also whipped up a few Quiche Florentines.
We had Greek Yogurt with all the fixings: honey, dried cherries, golden raisins, slivered almonds, toasted walnuts. A gorgeous winter fruit platter with apples, oranges, kiwi, bananas, and pomegranate seeds.
At the request of one of my guests, I whipped up a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.
I begged and borrowed to get the ingredients for bloody marys…but no one indulged. Coffee and mimosas were the favored beverages.
Everyone ate, drank, and had a merry time!
We were even prepared with some candies for the kids who came around singing a local Christmas song.
The Macedonian Orthodox Christmas celebration begins the evening of January 5th, which is known as kolede. Children go from door to door singing Christmas carols, heralding the birth of Jesus, and receiving fruits, nuts and candy from the people. Later in the evening, the elderly people from the neighborhood gather around a bonfire outside, and engage in a conversation about the past year and the year to come.
The following evening is the Christmas Eve, when a traditional oak log (badnik) is brought to the home. This log is cut by the father of the household and his older son, while the table is being set for the Christmas Eve supper (Posna Vechera). The dinner cannot have anything derived from animals, and it cannot be cooked using cooking oil or other types of fat. The traditional dinner usually consists of baked fish. The dinner is the last day of a traditional 40-day Orthodox Lent, which is done in a way to honor the Virgin Mary for carrying baby Jesus.
The oak log is cut into three pieces, representing the Holy Trinity, and each piece is brought into the house by the father. A member of the family receives a piece and places it on the fire. As this is done, the son and the father exchange a greeting: “Good evening and happy Christmas Eve” (Dobra Vecher i Vesel Badnik). While the log is being placed on the fire, the mother and the grandmother gather the children together into the room where the dinner is to be served. Each person carries a bundle of straw from outside, and together with the mother they spread the straw on the floor. The spreading of the straw on the house floor is meant to make the atmosphere more like that when the night Jesus was born. The house is decorated further decoratesd with oak and pine branches, representing the wish of the family for long and healthy life, “with health strong as oak, and with a life long as that of the oak.”
We were ready with the candy, in case anyone stopped by.
Miss Saska, our nanny, watched the first group of children pass by our house. She then saw this group and encouraged them to stop in.
What a great day!