Today is Christmas here in Macedonia. The Orthodox Christian calendar has Christmas on Jan. 7th. Today there was a nice service at church. There was beautiful music as we worshipped together "Hristos se rodi! (Christ is born!)" I enjoyed singing traditional Christmas songs in the Macedonian language (at least trying to). :) Many times during the service the congregation would say out loud in unison, "Hristos se rodi!".
Yesterday for Christmas Eve (Jan. 6th) we were invited to our landlords home for a traditional Christmas meal. This was really an honor for us. Our family was given a small baked loaf of bread. Eric, being the head of our home, broke the bread into small pieces and handed Sawyer and I our pieces. There was a coin in the bread and whoever got that piece, according to tradition, will have a lucky year. Well, Sawyer was the lucky recipient of the coin in our family and Blaze, our landlord, got the coin in the loaf for his family. His wife, Evka, was very happy for him and gave him a big kiss.
Next, we ate some cabbage pie. Evka used a pastry dough to form rings on the outside of the pie. Each ring represented the males present at the dinner. So there was a ring for Blaze, Eric, and Sawyer. In the middle of each ring was cabbage, except for the center, which was full of minced meat. We also had cabbage rolls. Do you see a pattern of cabbage here?? Yes cabbage is eaten in abundance here, and I'm trying to adjust to that (Eric has even been offered cabbage juice here in Macedonia. He drank 4 glasses! He did like it, but kept having his glass filled with a little protest). The cabbage rolls are filled with cooked rice and leeks. We also had grafche (white beans with peppers) and a delicious spread of desserts, of which Sawyer helped himself.
There is also another interesting tradition here for Christmas Eve. Children go around early on Christmas Eve morning and sing carols at homes for houses. It was fun for me to hear three sweet Roma children sing outside my home. I fixed baggies of candy to hand out to the children, which included chocolates and a candycane with the story of the candycane, which Pepi had graciously translated into Macedonian for me.