Jan 11, 2013

Christmas spiritual traditions of Eastern Orthodox Christians

Orthodox Nativity scene depiction
I decided to write about these traditions, as very little seems to be known about them, and online searches provide next to nothing about them. Well, truth be told, the traditions and customs related to Christmas  among the Eastern European Orthodox Christians/ folks  may be  uncommon, and bit strange when compared to modern, Catholic or otherwise atheistic/mundane Christmas celebration ( and yes  , what a paradox  ) but being that many of them draw from Slavic Paganism,  anyone with an interest in field of esotery may find something familiar, among these.

I myself am a Christian, first and foremost, hence certain folk customs and traditions,  particularly that having  originated from Slavic-Pagan cult of men ( as dominant , better gender ) , and sacrifice, I do not really practice nor advocate, but will elaborate on them due to  their historic, and folkloric value  here.

And why am I writing this just now, in  January ? Well in case, You did not read any of  my articles before, I shall explain. Christmas falls on 25th December indeed, but in Russian and Serbian Orthodox Christian  Church ( one of which I am part of ) Gregorian calendar is  still used in Church work  primary, whereas the Julian is used as mundane, or secular calendar. This means we celebrate Christmas on 7th of January according to Julian calendar.  Furthermore in Orthodx Christian community worldwide , Christmas is commemorated for three consecutive days 25th, 26th,27th December, the Second day of Christmas ( 26th ) being dedicated to  our beloved Mother Mary ( Theotokos ) and the  Third day of Christmas is also dedicated to St. Stephen the protomartyr 

The Christmas is preceded by numbers of days very important to it’s celebration in Orthodox Christianity, which may vary slightly depending on the country where    observed , but among the most important, and most popular are:
         ·         6th of the December – St.  Nicholas the Wonderworker which is a “feast day” ( family patron Saint  ) of many Serbian, Montenegrin, Macedonian and Russian Orthodox Christians, and enjoys  nearly cultic reverence  among these people. It’s feast day is a part of Nativity/Advent fasting day  period

        ·         8th of the December , dedicated to birth of St. Ana, Virgin Mary’s mother, but among Orthodox also a day dedicated to Children, and the folk name ( “Detenci”  ) could be translated as Children-day. It’s important  here because it’s the day associated with the folk custom in which kids are tied ( more symbolically than really )  by their parents, usually for chair, and in order to be set free ( untied ) they are to express their love to parents of offer tokens of it, small gifts, often handcrafted, or a simple few lines of lyrics, or even fruits and nuts of all sort. The very act is merely symbolic depiction of love an harmony between the child and the parent. This day is part of the Nativity fast days , and is also dedicated to St Patapius of Thebes 

·         16th of the December , week later is dedicated to St. Haggai a Prophet, and  the folk dedicate this date to Mothers , often cold ( org.sr./mc./ru  “Materice” ) Mother-day, when  much like in the  previous example children tie up their mothers, which  then must give them some sort of present , be it a mere kiss, to be set free.  Also a day dedicated to St. Teophania ( Greek Orthodox ) , and a   part of the Advent/Nativity fasting day series

·         23rd of December  ( 5th of January according to Gregorian Calendar ) a day dedicated to the Ten Martyrs of Crete, and St. Naum  ( often misspelled  online “Naoum” ) of Ohrid ( Serbian, Bulgarian, Montenegrin, Russian, parts of Macedonia ) and founding of (H)Agia Sophia ( Greek Orthodox ) , in Serbia and Montenegro also  called Beat-day  ( or.sr. “Tucindan” from the verb “tuchi” which means “beat” , as in beat up, and “dan” which means “day” )  because on this day an animal was ( and still is in many parts of the countries listed ) beaten to death with a   very large salt  nugget to death. The mentioned animal was fed throughout the fasting period on with Oak acorns, because it was believed that this particular aliment regime will cause animal to be more “sacred” thus  more appeasable sacrifice. The shoulder blade ( bone , Os Scapula ), the heart and the meat itself , played important role in Christmas eve, and Christmas Customs associated with divination, abundance, and blessings. The meat may be  baked and prepared on 23rd or 24th, but was eaten on Christmas , and was regarded as “ Christmas roast” thereafter. A part of it was reserved until 1st of January ( 14th according to Gregorian ), which would than be burned.

·         24th of December ( 6th of January according to Julian Calendar ) is   Christmas Eve ( and  of the ways it’s celebrated  in Eastern Orthodox  folk Christian tradition we shall  discuss latter in this article ) and a day dedicated to Fathers , according to Eastern European folk ( and Russians )  referred simply as “Fathers” ( org. sr. “Oci” ,org.ru. “Otci” )  and commemorated by children tyin g  up their fathers,  releasing them only If , and after they’ve paid the “toll” , in symbolic gifts, such as smaller amounts of money or other kind of present.  As we can notice, it’s a three day ( separated each by  week  ) practice of symbolic binding of the beloved ones, binding towards oneself, strengthening the family / blood bonds and  harmony between  children and parent , more than likely   being hereditary to some  Pagan ( Slavic Polytheistic  ) ritual/ tradition

Period from November 15th- 24/25th December    (  November 28th – January 7th according to Gregorian calendar   ) is  fasting period of  Six weeks  ( well 40 days really  ) , alternatively called Winter Lent, or Nativity fast, or among Eastern Catholic’s  Advent. The goal is to  get the prepared, spiritually and  mentally for the  birth of  Christ and most joyful Christian holiday.   Orthodox Christian theology, sees body and soul as intertwined, fused in a way, hence which affects one, will affect another,  hence the fasting affects both body and soul [1] The very  voluntary food deprivation should, however, be accompanied by restraining from anger, ill will, accusation  of others and judging,  greed, unhealthy bodily passions ,  in essence,  resisting sin and being unrighteous to other people.  Fasting draws one closer to G’d, cleanses  the body of sin, and as noted in  Western occultism, broadness spiritual awareness and increases spiritual potential s.  No wonder many Solomonic magick style Middle-age grimoires suggest fasting for days before  some ( more elaborate  ) “operations” or rites.

During this particular fast (Winter Lent, or Phillipian fast) meat, poultry, dairies  and eggs are not allowed. On particular days, even the use of oil is restricted or forbidden ( Wednesday and Friday  ) and this is often referred to as “water-y fasting” or “fasting on water” by Christian folk. Fish is allowed on Saturdays and Sundays, least otherwise specified, in which case the Church’s Theocracy would enlist such exempts in Orthodox Christian calendar.

Christmas Eve

Among the Orthodox Christians , Christmas Eve is specially  observed, and all the rituals, customs, beliefs and superstitions present on this day, among Russian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Greek,  could fill pages of a very large book.  I’ll be discussing,  here,  those that I have had the chance to either witness, or take participation n in.
Oak tree, placed in front of doors
The trademark symbol of Christmas eve on Balkans, is the Macedonian Oak ( Quercus trojana, syn. macedonica )
, a semi-deciduous ( retains most of  the leafs during the winter , although they  are not photosyntetically active ) xerophytic oak tree,  with distribution throughout Italy , Balkan peninsula, some occurring in Turkey as well.   Sadly, where I live, from an large tree, this beautiful Oak , is reduced to larger bush in most of the places, due to anthropological factor ( read  over-exploitation ).  The tradition suggests burning  branches of this tree , on Christmas eve, well large/er branches, but  people , driven by commercialism ( people cut these tree and sell them to  the faithful people )  and typical,  I’ll dare to say, vulgar, Slavic competitive spirit, make people cut down the whole, young tress . And so many of them, too, which they may afterwards sell to those that could not be bothered  to go "tree hunting" ( lol ) themselves, but will rather simply purchase, though by doing so, help someone economicaly, which is in a way part of Christmas tradition :)
Host of Oak trees, of species Quercus trojana syn. macedonica
being sold on street, prior to Christmas eve
The tree however, has very nice symbolism.  According to Orthodox theology,  branches of the tree, represent the  wood that the shepherds  had brought to the righteous Joseph  , at the cave to light a fire and warm up , Mother  Mary,  The Newborn Lord Christ and himself .  It also symbolizes The Holy Venerable Cross, blessings and abundance. The burning of the tree  is symbolic  “reenact”  of lighting fire for the Newborn Christ, and is a call of all pious Christians to gather around the sacred  fire, and celebrate the arrival of the most joyful  Christian festivity ( along with Easter ) . The tree is cut in the morning, and only men may take part of it, which is reminiscent of Slavic “men cult”*.  I remember though, my sister taggin g  along when I was a kid, lol, luckily  ( and strangely, considering the  mentality of the people in Balkans ) people where I live have not really clang g on that particular superstition. Women’s job was to prepare the Christmas meals, for tomorrow,  for the table was to be set in a very rich fashion, featuring abundance of  bountifully ,   well prepared meals. The very tree  was sprinkled with Corn, and the vine was poured over it, prior to cutting the branch with words such as:

“I give You Corn and Vine , and You  grant me abundance and blessings in/of  everything”

Today, however, these words are frequently substituted with common Orthodox Christian greeting associated with  the Christmas ; “Christ  is born” ( or.sr. “Hristos se rodi” ) . It has to be cut “from east to west” , and “taken down in as less swings , as possible” according to  the folklore.    The three was cut into three pieces, logs, each akin to Yule log , considering  the way it was treated.

The Christmas roast, made from animal that was ritually killed by lump of salt ( on 23rd of the December ) ,  is taken inside  after  the sunset, alongside with the tree ( Macedonian Oak ) by the “men of the family” or head of the family , all the same , and   the tree was cut into three parts , one which  was burnt right away, at the wood stove, or chimney.    After the roast, and the   Tree , the  straw was taken in, to be spread on the floor ,  commemorating the Births Scene , as our Lord was born in a cave with animals. Nuts,  chestnuts, currencies, and sweets are thrown into the  straw lain on the floor,  which the kids will pick after. Sometimes the very Tree was adorned with such.  Then the first part, which was the largest, as it would contain the smaller branches and the leafs as well,  of the tree was burnt   while chanting:

As  much/How many sparks, so much/many  money,
As much sparks/How many , so much/many success,
As much sparks/How many, so much/many health…”

Second part is either burnt the same night following the same  steps, although often “dressed” with vine ( poured over ) and sprinkled with maize, or more frequently ,  on Christmas, in the morning. The third part of the  tree was reserved  to be burnt on 14th of January ( 1st Of  January according to Gregorian calendar ) when a folk celebration of “Srbian New Year” was observed, this occurring only in Srbian people. For other Eastern Orthodox  14th was simply referred as “small Christmas” , and was a day when  the third part of  the Tree was to be burned. 

Today, when wooden stoves are hardly ever used, and chimney

Detail from the public Oak burning, this Jan.
place  is not  present in every house, public festivities are held , an d organized by Orthodox Christian Church , where people gather and burn their Trees together, on a large bonfire. When most of the trees burn down, people will usually celebrate  by greeting each other  with “Christ is/was born” ( note org. sr. mne.mk. ba. Hristos se rodi, uses   tense that can not be properly translated to English ) while the person to which the greeting is directed replies “Indeed he is”  ( org. “Vaistinu se rodi” ) or “Truly he is born”[2] . The same way of greeting is used among the Orthodox Christians of Balkan peninsula and Russia   is used all until the  Feast ofTeophany.
 In Mindinght  Christmas Church services are held, either than or   the next morning starting at 8am, when people take communion, If they  have been fasting taking the  blood and the flesh ( bread and vine  ) of our  Lord Christ.

I have observed myself this funny ritual,  preformed by priests  and believers , during the Midnight mass. See , they go around the Church three times,  circling  it , while reading the mass.  Similar custom is observed with the Holy fire phenomenon, occurring at Eastern , where the Patriarch, monks, and    pilgrims circle the Church of resurrection in Jerusalem, there times before the Patriarch enters. The significance of the circling during the Christmas mass,  is still a mystery to me.

Christmas eve is also  a day when some folk here believe is the day to go treasure hunting. This was/is believed to be  achieved  by following an ominous, guiding flame appearing in  Heavens to guide the worthy ones towards the treasure. During the flowing  the fire and digging,  one must be completely mute, least they feel inclined to say the formula : “Dancing gold”, once a while, very quietly as they  follow the fire. If the “treasure hunters” were to infact find a treasure, they would alos bring some soil from  the excavation site, to a cunning folk, which would then determine If the gold requires sacrifice,  or not.  If the treasure was “bloody” ( cursed ) , sacrifice would be made to prevent the curse and bad luck to befall on the person that  dug it up.  There is whole “set” or suggestions, how to make this task easier and what must be done to    overcome  obstacles which may occur,  but  perhaps more on that  I shall     elaborate e on another occasion.

Christmas, faith, customs,  and beliefs

Christmas is the day, when our beloved Lord Christ was born, to save the humanity  from our sins.  Lord was born in a cave in Bethlehem, by Virgin Mary or Theotokos as often referred among the Orthodox.  The very conception was without sin, through power of Holy Spirit,  thus miraculously conceived.   Here is how the source I like to consult for some of my blog posts describes this event:

“According to the Bible and to Holy Tradition, Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem in a cave, surrounded by farm animals and shepherds. The baby Jesus was born into a manger from the  Virgin Mary, assisted by her husband St.Joseph. St. Joseph and the Theotokos were forced to travel due to a Roman census; the odd location of the birth was the result of the refusal of a nearby inn to accommodate the expecting couple (Luke 2:1-20). Since it is known historically that dwellings were built directly over such caves housing livestock--in order to make use of the heat” [3]

We can note how little sympathy had people for Virgin Mary and St Joseph, and how the  Lord Christ,  despite being  higher than any king, was born in a humble environment,  surrounded by animals and straw, Hence the use of straw in folk customs  and rituals among Orthodox ( as well as some Catholic Christians ) in Christmas related rituals.

Before the Three Wise Men, Holy Kings, or Magi as also referred,  certain shepherds, that were watching their  flocks  nearby, came to see the Infant Jesus, and  according to Christian lore they had brought   firewood, which may been influential to rituals of burning Oak tree logs on  Christmas eve in Balkans and Russia.   Shepherds were directed there, through the act of providence , for the Angels appeared telling them to go and greet the Newborn King,  and then proceeded  with a song that glorified the birth of Messiah,   peace among the people and  goodness and profusion on Earth. Here is how The Good Book, describes possibly the very the most important   event in humanity’s existence :

8  “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  Luke 2:8-2:15 [4]

The role of either shepherds or more frequent Magi, in Orthodox Christian and folk traditions of Balkans,  is embodied in a single  male person, that was the first to enter the house of people and congratulate the holiday to them. This person is referred by folk as “Layer” or “one that lays” ( my own , liberal translation of the Serbian phrase for this people  ) coming from phrase “Polozajnik” which comes from Serbian verb “poloziti”  which translates: “to lay ( down )”  and is illustrative of the concept of “laying down the luck on the house” , a concept akin to Hoodoo “laying down the tricks”.  Therefore, If we could call the  certain  person a “trick layer”  , we could call this person “luck layer” as they were supposed to lay blessings, luck and in some areas, serve as “omens” of a kind ,  foretelling male children , to those families that were without them, to the house they enter. Most preferably , it was a Young men in question. They were to come as soon as the liturgical service ( mass ) was done and the  families would come home ( meaning  early in the morning, If the mass was held at midnight, in  break of the dawn even )  and then they’d approach the fireplace , If there was one, or a wooden stove, and making sparkles and moving the coals around ( with some tool , obviously such as tongs ) says something along the lines :

How many sparks, that much happiness in this house.
             How many sparks, that much money in the household head's pocket.
 How many sparks, that many sheep in the pen.
 How many sparks, that many pigs and lambs.
             How many sparks, that many geese and chickens,
             and most of all, health and joy.” [5]

In some areas, Layer would  then push the log ( second part of the Tree, Oak burned on Christmas eve ) in fire, sometimes throwing in  a coin as well ,  and would then be feasted by family , which would also give him a gift in form of round cake embedded with coin, towel, new pair of socks , shirt, or what is most present today, money J 

In some parts of the Serbia, he also plays the role of executioner of the  family’s  roaster, which is then served as part of Christmas supper, to which he   is to take part of himself ( the Layer- person ).  In some places, the Layer is not necessarily a human , but an animal such as sheep, ox,  swine, calf or alike would assume the role, being guided into the house, by some household member, who would serve as an ambassador or assistant of the animal and would often  proceed with other rituals.

Christmas bread,  which
was a loaf made circular ( something like a round Johnnycake, made ritually ), makes another trademark of Christmas tradition , in Serbian, Montenegrin, Russian, Macedonian and (some) Greek Orthodox Christians.  It is , traditionally supposed to be baked with the “new water” ( org. nenaceta voda, which would literarily translate to “unopened, unused water” ) water taken  from the spring or , even tap, by a young maiden before the sunrise. Sometimes , the “Strong water” ( or “Strength water” ,   discussed later  ) , and often a small amount of Holy water is added, particularly last year’s Teophany or Epiphany if obtainable. It is customary to add coin, preferably silver or gold one, which were common in Balkan during Middleages and earlier, and  are still part of  heritage of many families,  though any currency will do, as long as properly washed prior to adding ( most people wash with detergent and then sterilize by boiling or placing in  oven for an hour , on 100+’C / 212 F  ) . Sometimes other symbolic items may be added , such as part of the Tree ( Oak tree, burnt on Christmas eve, “Badnjak” ) to represent abundance in firewood, a piece of Corn, to represent  fruitful fields, and good year, and a piece of Christmas roast to represent a lot of  healthy animals in flock.  These very , obviously additions most commonly added by  country folk, whose  existence was dependant on agriculture and yields.    When baked, the bread was divided on equal partitions to all present, and one who’d  find  the coin in their piece, was considered fortunate, and the coin they could reserve as talisman of luck and success in the upcoming year. It was/is considered polite, that after  the year has passed coin was returned to the  original owner,  so it could be used in  bread again.

Often a Christmas cake was also made, a round  yeast dough  based, cake , with Chrismon  impressed over the upper cake’s surface.

The house is fumigated, all the meals as well and the Christmas  Troparion  and Kontakion were sang .  Sometimes traditional Christmas songs ( like Carols ) were also sang, particularly by children. Christmas dinner was traditionally ate, sitting on straws that was strewn on the floor, on Christmas eve. Also the dinner was to be eaten without  the help of cutlery, though I myself , a great fan of Bon-tone, could never bring myself to do so lol. It’s suggested  that all the  family members  participate in Christmas dinner, Christmas roast ( mentioned before ) is eaten, and in many places it is  customary that each member  get’s  partition of the animal’s heart. The shoulder blade ,  was inspected by the head of the family or someone proficient in divination, for omens about the upcoming year.  On the first Christmas day it was customary to stay home, while the Second day of Christmas ( 26th of December/8th of January )  was considered a great day to visit  broader family members, cousins and friends. The Third day of Christmas ( 27th December / 9th of January ) is dedicated to St. Stephen the Protomartyr, which happens to be  a feast day to many families here ( patron Saint of the family, whose feast day is  commemorated by families who “worshiped them” as their  patrons ) .
Now I shall proceed with some rituals/ customs / spell, that are traditionally preformed on these days here,  yet from which in essence, anyone , anywhere in the world, could benefit , and could use them If willing and foxy J

Acorn protective and healing  charm
Oak has specific place in many Pagan  traditions, but perhaps it was “most sacred”  to the Slavic people. The very Tree, mentioned above, burnt on Christmas eve, is an Oak. A  chief deity of Slavic pantheon, was considered to  be  strongly  related to Oak, furthermore, sometimes it was said that this deity resides in Oak ( Perun ) .  Larger and older Oak trees were considered  sanctuaries in their own rights, temples  of a kind , and a sacred place for rituals and sacrificing. Many Oaks in remote, often mountain parts of Balkan peninsula are even today marked, and bear special protective inscriptions ( due to Christianization , the  symbol  inscribed is most often  Cross , or Christograph, or Chrismon and so on ) , and thus serve as protectors of larger areas ( like a village )  and must never be cut down.  But this is a large topic that would be best suited for another article J   though I made few notes, simply  to stress out how sacred was this tree for Slavic people, and how sacred is therefore the following amulet, as pretty much any Oakwood made  tools

The following amulet is used to protect and strengthen the weak, meek and timid, those of poor health, infants and elderly. Sometimes it’s used  to “protect the mind from fascination”  , or mental disease .
It’s fairly simple, an Acorn ( Oak’s nut ) has to be collected, while thanking the tree properly ( pouring small amount of vine on  it’s trunk , and sprinkling some maze, or other seeds  around the base of it, or simple act of watering the tree   would  befit ) and saying something along these lines:

“Help me, as Lord has helped You!”
When the time is right ( usually around Christmas here )  from the  acorn ( You’ve collected as described above  )    capule ( “cap” looking cover ) is removed, a personal concern placed inside, and then placed back on, and sealed with wax.

I’d suggest burning white candle, possibly  dusted with some protective powder, and using this wax to seal the acorn, and reading some suiting Psalm, let say 90th as You seal do this.
Cone prosperity charm

This can be done on the first day of the New Year, Christmas, of the day after it, and really , I assume it could be done at any prosperity auspicious time/s, such a Full Moon,  Taurus in Sun lol and so on
You need to light a single red candle, according to the source [6] although a green one or even gold one, seem more than appropriate as well. On each cone scale drop a few drops of wax and add small currency coin. As You do it say something along the lines :

“As much/How many  acorns the Oaks have, so much/than many money/fortune send my way Lord!”
Or “As many  cones Pines have,  so many money send my way Lord” and so on You get the drift

When done let it sit by the candle until it burns out and keep  in some  suitable place ( on Your desktop, or near to where You keep money, business stuff and so on ) as a charm to  beacon  constant money income.  If You’d like to know bit more on  use of Cones and Pine in magick You can check my article/post    on it .
I think the spell could be done more than well using   minute amounts of Pyrite dust, or lodestone feeding dust instead of coins. Or interchangeably with them. Heck, maybe even Patchouli or Basil leafs could  go instead of  coins J  You could also dress the  Cone with some Money oil, powder  , and while You are makin’  it , or over the finished charm You could read the Psalm 23rd ,  or some prayer for abundance.

Strong water

Strong water, or strenght water is a form of spiritual water obtained only on Christmas morning, and used to cure ills, and strenghten one. Some people advocate it's use in unhexing and uncrossing as well.
To obtain it, a girl , or women, must go to some natural spring or well, or stream, even river ,  carrying some Maize ( Corn ) and Basil bundle  from home. She places these by the spring and takes some water from it using a bucket or other kind of suitable vessel, and brings the water home, which is from there of known as Strenght or Strong water, and used in baths, head washing, home asperings, especialy of those ill , or week.  In Russia,  it's customary in some places , for the girl that brought the strong water also brings some Willow or Birch twighs ( Cornel is used in Serbia, alongside Willow and Birch ) which are sprinkled with Strong water and used to lightly hit small children or animal in order to render them healthy and strong.

Hope You  find this informative or interesting, and mind that  in Balkan peninsula, January is a month packed full with days of power that don’t end with Christams. I have written on this in a post dealing with  so called “Unbaptized days”   last year J
Many Blessings

NOTES: This article was composed and or written by me, hence, If You want  to use any part of it elswhere online,   add credits: Shadow of Shadows magick place, Shadow-333@hotmail.com , or  a direct link to this post.
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_Fast
[2] The latter translation, unlike the first is not my own, it’s one suggested by author of the following article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_Christmas_traditions
[3]  Quotation/ Retrieved  from : http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nativity
[4] retrieved  from: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%202:1-2:20&version=NIV , respectfully
[5] retrieved from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_Christmas_traditions
[6]  Translated,  parphrased and adapted for use here by myself, originally from “Kalendar za Srecne dane” by Jasna Jojic Pavlovski,  2010th , Belgrade
Other  consulted literature and suggested reading :
Cajkanovic, Vesekin (1994).  Речник српских народних веровања о биљкама  ( the work title translates to : "Dictionary of  Serbian folk belifs about  plants" )
and : Karadzic, Vuk Stefanovic : "Zivot i obicaji naroda srpskoga" ( the work's title translates to: "Life and customs of Serbian people" ) published by Politika, Narodna knjiga, Belgrade 2005th
Explanations: * While I  have used "Slavic cult of men"  term  troughout the article, there is no  such term in official antrophological writings, however it's evident that Slavic Pagans considered men to be more "pure" hence more suited for such spiritual works as household blessing, cattle blessing ,  as well as playing the  " lead role"  in inportant annual celebration and ceremonies, which is interestingly different from Central  and Western European belif that wiches were predominantly women

Image of the Christmas bread loaf is from http://www.glassrbije.org/srbija/%C4%8Dlanak/obi%C4%8Daji-i-tradicija-kod-srpskog-naroda edited for posting here, used for illustrative purposes without any ill will here. The Nativity Icon from the begining of the post is from http://orthodoxwiki.org/images/c/c9/Nativity.jpg , and the previously said applies here as well, used without ill will
Other images were taken by myself,   while I was participiating in local festivities

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