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Serbia’s royal family celebrates Orthodox Christmas

Photo: Oskar Aanmoen/Royal Central

Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia celebrated Orthodox Christmas on Thursday. This year the royals celebrated the holiday in New York due to the ongoing pandemic.

In connection with Orthodox Christmas, Crown Prince Alexander issued a statement. He said: “On the occasion of Christ’s birth, to all citizens of Serbia, Republika Srpska and all people around the world who celebrate this Holy day on January 7, I extend warmest congratulations. I wish you to spend Christmas in peace and love, surrounded by your loved ones. Most of all, my family and I wish you good health. Let your home and your family be a source of peace, warmth, and love. Peace of God, Christ is born!”.

In Serbia, the main church is the Orthodox Church, and they still use the old ‘Julian’ Calendar, which means that Christmas Eve is on 6 January and Christmas Day on 7 January. Advent in the Orthodox Church starts on 28 November and lasts for six weeks, not four.

People in Serbia also celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day but on 19 December. The Serbian Royal Family was banned from entering any Yugoslav country during the Soviet occupation. The anti-monarchy communist government did not approve of the old Christmas celebration. They banned it and started their own version called Grandfather Frost. Traditional Serbian customs have also mixed with western customs. For example, people also have Christmas trees, but they are decorated on New Year’s Eve.

This year’s Christmas celebration was in many ways different from the normal way to celebrate a Serbian royal Christmas. Last year the Royal family celebrated in Serbia at the Royal palace just outside Belgrade. Besides the members of the Serbian Royal Family, members of the Crown Council, members of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander’s Foundation for Culture and Education, members of Kingdom of Serbia Association, and many other friends of the Royal Family were also invited. On Christmas morning last year, Crown Prince Alexander cut the Christmas log, and the evening was marked by the traditional burning of the Yule log in front of the Royal Palace. The burning of the Yule log was followed by a traditional reception for all present at the Royal Palace.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.