In Montenegro, Christmas eve is called “Badnji dan’ in the day, and then “Badnje vec” when the sun goes down.
This is a time that many are preparing their Christmas feasts and celebrations–and still, they do not prepare anything with animal products.
In the morning, men perform a traditional ritual, where they go and cut a Yule log from the woods, called “Badnjak”. It is from an oak tree and translates as meaning “Christmas Eve Tree”.
A lot of people now live in cities, though, and don’t have access to any oak trees to cut the Badnjak, so they just go to the store and buy them now!
During this time, churches often have mini bonfires outside, where people begin to gather outside of in the evening.
They can also buy a Bradnjak to put into the bonfires to make the evening that much more special.
Often times, churches also put on a nativity play or some other Christmas play to entertain their members and visitors.
Christmas Celebration Traditions in Montenegro
In Montenegro, it may interest you to know that Christmas Eve is January 6th, while Christmas Day is January 7th.
This is due to the fact that the local Orthodox Churches still use the Julian Calendar.
This is due to the fact that the Advent (celebrated by the Orthodox Church) begins November 28th and lasts for the next six weeks.
During this celebration, a lot of Orthodox Christians fast and do not eat any animal products–this includes any milk, meat, and eggs.
Serbia and Montenegro share a common culture in their Christmas traditions and celebrations, which means you can celebrate relatively the same while in either country.
There are two different types of Orthodox churches in Montenegro–the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.
They each have their own Cathedrals, and each year they have large bonfires outside.
Montenegro Christmas Bakery
Cesnica is a round bread made only at Christmas. Family members pass it around, with each tearing off a piece to eat.
It has a coin baked inside of it, and whoever finds the coin in their piece will have luck for the next year.
During the Christmas meal, you might find yourself eating pecenica (roasted pork), sarma (cabbed stuff with meat and rice), and cakes!
The dinner table is also decorated–particularly underneath the table. You will find straw laid out to remind you of Jesus’ birth in a manger, and once the straw is spread, some will cluck like a chicken.
This is to symbolize Jesus wanting everyone to follow him as a family, the way chickens follow each other. Some families will also spread walnuts into the straw.
No matter where you celebrate–in Serbia or Montenegro–the Christmas greetings are the same. Merry Christmas is “Hristos se rodi (Христос се роди)”, and if you want to say Christ is born, you say “Vaistinu se rodi (Ваистину се роди) – truly born. It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.
Main Points About Christmas in Montenegro
- The people of Montenegro celebrate their Christmas on the 7th day of January.
- It is not allowed to eat foods that come from animals on Christmas eve.
- The Badnjak (The Christmas yule log) is brought into the house by the men on Christmas eve. The log burns all through the evening.
- It is common to find open bonfires outside churches on Christmas eve. Many people gather to watch nativity plays.
- On Christmas day, a coin bread is passed at the food table. The coin is a good fortune for whoever finds it. Also, there is a straw symbol under the dinner table.
Montenegro is an Orthodox country and uses the old Julian Calendar, so Christmas Eve takes place on January 6th and Christmas Day on the 7th.
Advent lasts for six weeks and some people fast and don’t eat meat during this time as in many other Orthodox countries.
People often gather around a bonfire outside a church on Christmas Eve and there might be a nativity play going on outside or inside the church.
Word Cloud for Christmas in Montenegro
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Montenegro. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.