I went to "Badnja Vece" (Christmas eve dinner) at Aleksandra's house. It was just her, her mum, brother, gran and I. The "Badnjak" is the Oak Tree that is found and cut on Christmas eve. They are either taken to the church where they are decorated and then burnt in front of the church or brought into the house and decorated and a bit of it burnt. This is supposed to symbolise the fire that was burning in the stable to keep the Christ child warm and reminds them of the light and warmth of Jesus in our lives. It also symbolises the old being burnt and done away with, to start a new year afresh.
The meal is "posno" ie no meat, milk or eggs as it is the last day of the 40 day Christmas fast (which is broken tomorrow!). I was a big hit because I figured out how to make my oatmeal unbaked cookies in a "posno" way and if you have tried them, you know that they are good!!
Here are Aleksandra and I in front of the Badnjak: And her brother Vladen (otherwise known as the white ghost arsonist) lighting it on the balcony.