"Badnjak" is an oak log which is cut and burned in the hearth as a part of Serbian Christmas customs (as the Serbian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, Christmas currently falls on January 7 of the Gregorian calendar).

Early on the morning of Christmas Eve, the head of the family would go to a forest in order to cut "badnjak", which would then be brought into the church to be blessed by the priest. Then the oak tree would be stripped of its branches, which combined with wheat and other grain products, would be burned in the fireplace. The burning of the "badnjak" is a ritual which is most certainly of pagan origin, and it is considered a sacrifice to God so that the coming year may bring plenty of food, happiness, love, luck and riches.

Today, as most Serbs live in cities, "badnjak" can be bought at a marketplace (like Christmas trees), or is sometimes received in church after the church service. Often just a little oak branch, "badnjak" is lit at home symbolically.

ee also

* Yule log

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