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The badnjak is a log brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve, a central tradition in Serbian Christmas celebrations much like a yule log in other European traditions. The tree from which the badnjak 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, while wishing that the family's happiness and prosperity be as abundant as the sparks. As most Serbs today live in towns and cities, the badnjak is often symbolically represented by a cluster of oak twigs with brown leaves attached, with which the home is decorated on Christmas Eve.

Today Badnjak is usually purchased on the market and it is used as a decoration in the house on Christmas Eve.

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Additional Photos by Aleksandar Dekanski (dekanski) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 307 W: 125 N: 954] (6557)
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