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Open-air fire, built with conically arranged long pieces of wood, blazes in the night. Orthodox priest places a long oak sapling with brown leaves on the fire. The priest and the fire are surrounded by a ring of people watching them. In the background, walls of a great church are visible.
Orthodox priest places the badnjak on the fire during Christmas Eve celebration at the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

The badnjak (Cyrillic: бадњак, Serbian pronunciation: [ˈbǎdɲaːk]), also called veseljak (весељак, [ʋɛˈsɛ̌ʎaːk], literally "jovial one" in Serbian), is represented by three types of objects in Serbian Christmas celebrations. The oldest type is a log brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve,[Note 1] much like a yule log in other European traditions. The tree from which the log is cut, preferably a young and straight oak, is ceremonially felled early on the morning of Christmas Eve. The felling, preparation, bringing in, and laying on the fire, are surrounded by elaborate rituals, with many regional variations. The burning of the log is accompanied by prayers that the coming year brings food, happiness, love, luck, and riches. The log burns on throughout Christmas Day, when the first visitor strikes it with a poker or a branch to make sparks fly, requesting that the family's happiness and prosperity be as abundant as the sparks. Another type of the badnjak that has developed among the Serbs has mostly replaced the traditional log, whose burning is usually unfeasible in modern homes. It is a cluster of oak twigs with brown leaves attached, with which the home is decorated on the Eve.

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Studenica Monastery, a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance and also a World Heritage Site.

Did you know

...that famous supermodel Adriana Lima married Serbian NBA player Marko Jaric?

...that Serbia regained independence in 2006?

...that famous writer John Ronald Reuel Tolkien tried to learn the Serbian language but failed?

...that actress and model Milla Jovovich has origins in the Serb tribe of Vasojevići?

...that Belgrade was under some form of attack every 37 years on average since AD 1?

...that Belgrade was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times

...that Serbia had the highest GDP growth rate in Europe in 2005 and 2006?

...that Serbia grows over a third of the world's raspberries and it is the largest exporter of frozen fruit in the world?

...that Serbian language is almost the same as Croatian and Bosnakian?

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Population statistics of Serbia (Estimate May 2005)

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Petar I Karađorđević

Peter I (Serbian: Petar I Karađorđević, Петар I Карађорђевић) (29 June 1844 – 16 August 1921), was King of Serbia from 1903 to 1918, and subsequently the ruler of Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later 1929 Kingdom of Yugoslavia). He was member of the Royal House of Karađorđević. As the leader of victorious Serbian army in World War I, he also received the nickname "Liberator" (Oslobodilac) after the war. The Western-educated King attempted to liberalise Serbia with the goal of creating a Western-style constitutional monarchy, even translating John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" into Serbian. Peter chose to "retire" due to ill health following the Balkan Wars which, from a Serb perspective, were a great success. Executive power passed to his son Alexander. The King was relatively inactive during the First World War, although he did occasionally visit trenches to check up on his troops. One memorable visit in 1915 involved Peter, by then 71, picking up a rifle and shooting at enemy soldiers. Following Serbia's military defeat to the forces of Austro-Hungary Peter led the army and civilian refugees through the mountains to the sea on a 'Calvary known to few peoples'. The King had on 24 June 1914 reassigned his royal prerogatives to the Heir apparent Crown Prince Alexander. His last public appearance was on 1 December 1918, when he was proclaimed King of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. King Peter I died in Belgrade in 1921 at the age of 77.

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Serbian Cities

Largest cities of Serbia (2002 census)

Belgrade - 1,576,124
Pristina- 500,000+
Novi Sad - 299,294
Niš - 250,518
Kragujevac - 180,252
Leskovac - 156,252
Subotica - 148,401
Zrenjanin - 132,051
Kruševac - 131,368
Pančevo - 127,162
Šabac - 122,893
Kraljevo - 121,707
Čačak - 117,072
Smederevo - 109,809
Sombor - 97,263
Valjevo - 95,631

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