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Badnjak »Badnjak | 93 Badnjak se obično pali uz reči: „Koliko varnica, toliko srećica. Koliko varnica, toliko parica. Koliko varnica, toliko prasadi i jaganjaca, a najviše zdravlja i veselja...“ The badnjak is usually set alight with the words: “Howmany sparks, that much good luck. How many sparks, that much money. Howmany sparks, that many piglets and lambs, and most of all health and joy...” Njegovo veličanstvo Hrastovi pripadaju familiji bukve i u našim krajevima prisutno je oko desetak vrsta, a među njima su najpoznatiji cer ( Quercus cerris L. ), lužnjak ( Quercus robur L. ), medunac ( Quercus pubescens Willd. )... Vrsta hrasta koja je u narodnu poznata kao cer najčešće se koristi za badnjak. – Cer je listopadno drvo koje može da poraste do 35 metara u visinu, dok u prečniku dostiže i do jednog metra. Pojedini primerci mogu da dožive starost i do 200 godina. Za hrastove je karakteristično da, kada se iseče stablo, na panjevima se iz pupoljaka razvijaju mladi izdanci i na taj način se brzo i lako obnavlja šuma koja je posečena – kaže dr Uroš Buzurović, kustos botaničar Prirodnjačkog muzeja u Beogradu. His Majesty Quercus cerris Oaks belong to the beech family and our region is home to around ten species, the best known of which are the Turkey/Austrian oak ( Quercus cerris L. ), the common oak ( Quercus robur L. ), the downy oak ( Quercus pubescens L. ) etc. The Turkey oak, popularly referred to as “cer” [tser], is most commonly used as the badnjak. “Cer is a deciduous tree that can grow to a height of up to 35 metres, while the diameter of the trunk can reach up to a metre. Some specimens can live for up to 200 years. A characteristic of oaks is that, when the tree is felled, young shoots sprout from buds on the stump, and thus a felled forest quickly and easily restores itself,” says Dr Uroš Buzurović, curator botanist of the Natural History Museum in Belgrade. the house, accompaniedby children who chirp like chicks, sprinkle on thefloorwheat grain, coins and fruit froma sieve. After dinner the badnjak is kissed, rubbedwithhoney and sprayed with wine, then lit in the fireplace as a unique symbol of fire that will spawn a new, eternal light. Childrenpoke anddisturb the burning badnjak in an effort to generate themost possible sparks, which symbolise good health, a great offspring, good crop yields and every other form of wealth. “Carrying within it an entire series of beliefs related to agricultural work, the fertility of soil and livestock, Christmas was the most important holiday for the Serbian peasant for a long time. In urban communities, this family holiday has been maintained to this day, under the scope of which members of the family gather for a solemn feast with the symbolic burning of the badnjak and the breaking of the česnica [ceremonial bread],” says Ognjević. in the middle of winter, the season when nature seemingly dies, is not anact of destruction, but rather heralds the rebirth of the world that’s announced by the souls of holy ancestors who visit the family home in the morning, embodied in the formof the položajnik [the first visitor on Christmas morning], and greet their descendants. Thus, the položajnik is heartily received and presented with gifts, and in return brings wellbeing and fertility to the family. The dishes from the Christmas Eve feast are left on the table overnight and are not washed, because the ancestors eat fromthem,” once explained famous ethnologist Veselin Čajkanović. Christmas is a unique fusion of the religious and the pagan, a folk festival and a church feast, a family holiday and a national one, the main holiday of the winter season. Although it can’t be confirmedwith certainty precisely when the mass celebrating of Christmas began among Serbs, there’s no doubt that certain forms of this holiday were commemorated during theMiddle Ages. Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve in particular – when the whole family awaits the announcement of the birth of Christ – represents the point in time and space when both ancestors and their descendants gather in the glory of the Son of God. “Starting on the morning of Christmas Eve, when the head of the household and his eldest son head out to ritually chop down a young oak, Christmas Eve encompasses a series of the most varied preparations for themoment when the family will gather for a Lenten, but symbolically very important, dinner,” says gastroheritologist Tamara Ognjević. The badnjak isn’t brought into the home before dinner. It’s customary for the head of the household to carry it into the home with the words: “Good evening and happy Christmas Eve”, clucking like a hen as he does so, while the lady of