Dear holidays… you never end!
When I travel, one of my favourite things is to observe how the festivities are celebrated. It is always beautiful discover the traditions of another country and, at the same time, notice something new of your nation. This year I could celebrate the catholic and the orthodox Christmas, two New Years (one based on the Gregorian calendar and the other base on the Julian one) and two Epiphanies. So I am able to make a comparison between the Italian and the Serbian traditions.
The landscape is always the same: Christmas songs in the shops, people buying gifts, long and delicious lunch and dinner.The things that change are the symbols. For example, in the orthodox Christmas Eve there is the tradition to burn dead branches as a symbol of Jesus’ birth. This year I was one of the several people who surrounded thatbig fire looking at some children who threw a branch in it. On the other side I discovered that the preparations of the nativity scene arenot so important in Serbia, contrarily of Italy .In Italy you can find everything you need for create a realistic representation of Jesus’ birth, from the moss to put into the “mountains” to the sculptures of shepherds and other characters. In Serbia the Christmas tree is at the centre of the scene and, for me, the most incredible thing is that everyone can have a real tree with an expense of only 10 € (more or less), instead in Italy it is usual to buy an artificial tree spending more money. But even so, both in Italy and in Serbia the most important aspect of Christmas is the same: have the opportunity to spend time with your family and to enjoy!
Happy New Year!
Music, toast and shots: you can find this in both countries. The only difference is that in Serbia I have begun to hear shots since the first days of December…maybe guys and children were training for the big event!
Epiphany… the end of all festivities!
Until now Epiphany is the only festivity celebrated in two total different ways. According to the Italian tradition an old lady (la Befana) flys with her broom to bring sweets or coal to all children during the night. In Serbia there is a “colder” tradition: swim in the frozen water!! It is something that I always saw in Tv and, finally, I had the possibility to see in person! The view of some men who tried to break the ice was very impressive because I knew that the participants had to swim in that cold water! Of course the most important thing of this event is the preparation. Those who want to participate have to train during all the year and, despite this, everyone must be accompanied by a doctor for safety reasons. Despite a long wait it was amazing see the dives of those brave people. I felt cold only to look at them!
Monia de Marcellis