Christmas in Montenegro – How is Christmas Celebrated in Montenegro?

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In Montenegro, Christmas Eve is January 6 and Christmas Day is January 7 because the main Orthodox churches still use the old “Julian” calendar.

In the Orthodox Church, Advent begins on November 28 and lasts six weeks. During Advent, some people fast and do not eat food that comes from animals (meat, milk, eggs, etc.). The countries of Serbia and Montenegro share many of the Christmas traditions.

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Christmas in Montenegro - How is Christmas Celebrated in Montenegro?

Christmas Eve is called ‘Badnji dan’ during the day and ‘Badnje veče’ after sunset. It is a time where families prepare for Christmas. Many do not eat food that comes from animals on Christmas Eve.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, it was traditional for the men to go out into the forest and cut a type of Yule Log called “Badnjak” (Christmas tree), usually from an oak tree. Now more people live in towns and cities, they can only buy a Badnjak in the market!

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The Badnjak is taken to the house on Christmas Eve and is meant to last all afternoon and night.

Outside the churches, there are often large bonfires where people gather early in the evening on Christmas Eve. Sometimes there are Nativity and Christmas works placed outside or inside the churches. People can bring special Badnjak to put on bonfires.

There are two Orthodox churches in Montenegro. The Serbian Orthodox Church and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. They have different main cathedrals and they have two big bonfires outside of them on Christmas Eve.

‘Cesnica’ is a special type of bread made at Christmas and is made in round shape. The bread is passed around and each member of the family receives a piece. There is a coin hidden in it and whoever gets the coin will be particularly lucky next year! In the main Christmas meal you can also eat ‘pecenica’ (roast pork), ‘sarma’ (cabbage stuffed with rice and minced meat) and different types of cakes.

Under the dinner table there should be some straw as a symbol of the stable / cave where Jesus was born. When the straw is extended, some people make the noise of a chicken. Crowing like a chicken symbolizes that Jesus wanted people to follow him like a big family (like chickens get together!). It is also common for a handful of nuts to spread on the straw.

Christmas in Montenegro - How is Christmas Celebrated in Montenegro?

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In Montenegrin and Serbian Happy / Merry Christmas is Hristos se rodi (Христос се роди) – Christ is born Vaistinu se rodi (Ваистину се роди) – He is born truly (answer).

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