Monday, January 06, 2014

Christmas Eve

Most of the Orthodox churches worldwide continue to adhere to the Julian calendar (as the Gregorian was established in 1582 by the Roman Catholic church, by then sundered from Orthodoxy for over 500 years). Which means that tonight is Christmas Eve, and tomorrow is Christmas.
Badnjak bonfire (2013)
Serbian tradition has the faithful burning an oak log in their fireplaces (or tossing branches of it on a public bonfire), following the vespers. One scene from the Mountain Wreath, a XIX century epic poem by the great Serbian poet and Bishop of Montenegro, Njegoš, takes place on Christmas Eve:

CHRISTMAS EVE

Bishop Danilo and Abbot Stefan sit by the fire, and the happy monastic students dance about the house and place Christmas logs on the fire.

ABBOT STEFAN
Have you, children, placed the logs on the fire?
Did you put them crosswise, to our custom?

STUDENTS
We have placed them as we should, grandfather.
Handfuls of wheat over them we have strewn,
and we have poured ruby wine over them.

ABBOT STEFAN
Now give me, too, a glass of good red wine,
and let it be a liter and a half,
that this old man may drink to Christmas logs.

They give him a glass of wine. He gives a Christmas toast and drinks the wine.

ABBOT STEFAN (wiping his moustache)
God's blessings on this joyous holiday!
Bring the gusle over here, my children.
My heart truly longs to hear it playing,
and to sing, too; I haven't forages.
Do not take it as sin, O Mighty Lord!
It is only an old man's old habit.

(The students give him the gusle)

ABBOT STEFAN (sings)
There is no day unless it can be seen,
nor is there real feast-day without Christmas!
I have observed Christmas in Bethlehem,
I have kept it on Mount Athos also,
and feted it in Holy Kiev, too;
but quite apart this celebration stands
for merriment and its simplicity.
The fire's burning brighter than ever,
the straw is spread in front of the fire.
Christmas logs are laid on the fire crossways.
The rifles crack, and roasts on spits do turn.
The gusle plays, and the dancers sing.
Grandfathers dance with their young grandchildren.
In the kolo join three generations,
it seems they're almost of the same age.
Everything is filled with bright mirth and joy,
but what I like best of all, so help me,
one has to drink a toast to everything!

(from a translation by Prof. Vasa D. Mihailovich, UNC Chapel Hill, 1997)

5 comments:

James said...

Serbian Christmas song Andjeli pevaju
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SDMONHHViQ

Dave said...

@grayfalcon, what is your opinion about Artemije? Is the Serbian Orthodox Church heading towards a Ukrainian scenario?

CubuCoko said...

Dave, I'd rather not ruin Christmas talking politics. Suffice to say that Wikileaked dispatches show clearly who was behind Artemije's ouster, and for reasons that had nothing to do with religion.

Meezer said...

Now that christmas & Krsna Slava have passed, I can now resume with politics. Who was behind Artiemije's ouster & why? Where can one find more info on the Wikileaked dispatches regarding Serbia, RS, KIM, etc.??

CubuCoko said...

Take a look at these two dispatches from 2006, this one talking about "hardliner" Artemije vs. the more "progressive" clergy and this one where the Imperial ambassador takes issue with Bishop Artemije's recent US trip.

Basically, ever since Bishop Artemije refused to be their "tame Serb", in 2004 or thereabouts, the Empire has been looking to get rid of "that troublesome priest". But it took the quisling cult in Serbia to actually do it.