Relationship: Child of im/migrant
The Badnjak wrapped in colored string
The Badnjak wrapped in colored string

January 6th, Badnje Vece (Christmas Eve), a day I look forward to every year, but one thing about it always stands out, “The Badnjak.” The Badnjak is a giant oak tree picked out on the morning of Christmas Eve. It is decorated with candy and strings, after the church service the priest will toss holy water and wheat at the tree and the people. Then the Badnjak is taken outside to be lit on fire while everyone gathers around. The tree branches are left from the Badnjak and wrapped in 3 strings, each in a different color: red, blue, and white. The colors of the strings represent the Serbian flag and the tradition of carrying the Badnjak into our home. The Badnjak is a primary aspect of Christmas Eve, as the Badnjak means happiness, love, and riches for the following year. Ever since I was little, watching the Badnjak was a vivid memory. The number of people that would come to church was always more than any day in the year. It was a day almost everyone never missed to attend and celebrate. I remember being excited to see all the Serbians in one place all saying “Srecno Badnje Vece” (Happy Christmas Eve) to each other. Seeing all the kids grabbing the candy from the Badnjak before it is lit. All the parents kissing each other three times on each cheek as a greeting. Badnje vece was always a night to witness my culture and make me proud of it. Badnji Dan was a day of fasting to welcome Christmas Day with a dish of either lamb or pig to break the fast. The “Badnjak” will always remain meaningful to me, as it represents my parent's story and the culture I am extremely proud of.

Place(s): Las Vegas and Serbia

– Elena Avram

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant