Saints Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church

Christmas Eve 2010

On January 6th at 7p.m my heart was filled with tears of joy and excitement when I saw our little children spreading hay all over the church floor and taking pictures next to an amazing table full of Badnjaks.

As men, women and children filled our modest parish; I was standing next to the choir and thinking: “Dear Lord, how powerful is to see all these humble people that came together with their families and friends to celebrate a birth of your only son Jesus Christ”. The Nativity of Christ is the most exciting moment in not just in Serbian tradition, but also it is the holiest moment in the history of human race. The birth of Christ separates time to that before and after Christ and represents the center of not only Christian, but the history of man in general.

When I lifted my head up after prayer, I noticed that every single soul was smiling and listening to Father Miladinin’s divine Nativity of Christ liturgy. As the smell of tamjan filled the air, with choir’s breath taking songs and praises, if listened carefully, one could have almost hear the voice of the angel that appeared to the shepherds and announced to them that the Savior was born. There was no room for chairs, everyone was standing close to each other and both church doors were half-open with rest of the parishioners that were unable to come in. This was extremely joyous time for entire Serbian community in Atlanta.

Immediately after blessing of the Badnjak, everyone joined Father Miladin and choir in traditional walk around the church with Badnjak . As we walked step by step, on this cold, January evening, and sang praises to our Lord, there were no hearts that refused to feel happiness and joy that Christmas brings. After all, it is all about family and friends. And that night, even if the people did not talk to each other, they found ways to forgive each other and rejoice in Christ’s birth.
This holy evening filled with love, peace and happiness was highlighted by lighting of the Bdanjak in the backyard of our church. Our brothers and sisters were dancing and singing “Öj Badnjace, Badnjace” and this moment was priceless. There is no word that I can find to describe how it felt. But this great event would never saw the light of the day if it was not for a great organization and unity of our parishioners.

Let us all rejoice and celebrate our incredible traditions that not many people in the world have.

Sladjana Hrnjak