Most of the Christians in Macedonia belong to the Orthodox Church, so Christmas is celebrated on January 7 (the Orthodox Church uses the “Julian” Calendar for its festivals).
The Christmas celebrations really start on January 5, what is called ‘Kolede’. On this day people, especially children, like to sing Christmas carols singing around their neighbors. They are given fruits, nuts and coins.
When the singing is over, people gather around large bonfires. Sometimes they take place in parks where hundreds of people can go to see them. Others like the smaller events where the local community meets. You eat a lot of traditional food.
At the end of the night you pass a special Christmas bread that has a baked coin. Everyone takes a piece and if they find the coin, they will be lucky for next year (and they may also have to hold the bonfire next year!).
On Christmas eve (January 6), people wait for the special Christmas meal to be eaten at night.
The food is called ‘posna’ and traditionally does not contain dairy products, meat or animal products. Dishes can include nuts, fresh and dried fruits, baked cod or trout, bread, bean soup, potato salad, Ajvar (red pepper sauce), Sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and spices) and pickled vegetables . At the end of the meal you eat coin bread or Christmas cake with a coin.
Christmas eve is also when the traditional yule oak register, called “badnik”, is introduced into the house and lit (the Christmas Eve dinner is also called “badnik dinner”). The houses are also usually decorated with oak branches and Christmas trees are popular. Sometimes there is straw on the floor or under the tablecloth.
On Christmas Day (January 7), most Christians attend a religious service and then return home to eat a big Christmas party. The traditional greeting on Christmas day is “Hristos se rodi” or “Христос се роди!” (Christ is born) to which you respond “Navistina se rodi” (It really is born!).
In Macedonian, Happy / Merry Christmas is ‘Sreken Božik’ (Среќен Божик).
The great Christmas day meal can include different grilled meats, cheese pies, salads and lots of bread, cakes and sweets. Christmas celebrations often last another three days after Christmas Day.