Apart from the „conventional“ Christmas Eve on the 24th of December, as a Volunteer in Kuterevo you can enjoy a second one, which takes place on the 6th of January: Orthodox Christmas Eve in Vrhovine, a community with Serbian majority near Otočac.
We left Postaja at 5 pm with two cars, stuffed with the four long term Volunteers, Hanse and Margit from the German organization „Aktion Baerenkinder e.V.“, Maja from Zagreb, Majstor Šilko and (of course) Ivan. We arrived just in time for the celebration. It was 30 minutes of an orthodox liturgy, which is a big difference to the catholic procedure. After that, the traditional „Badnjak“ took place. A big branch of an oak tree was blessed and everybody could help him- or herself to a twig of it. When all the community was provided with their personal lucky oak, the rest of it was dragged outside of the church, where a fire was already burning. The wood was put onto the pile of burning logs and fireworks were burnt, which could remind someone of the New Years Eve.
The mayor of Vrhovine invited all of us to a presentation of the touristic plans they had for the area. Additionally, food and drinks were offered while we learned more about the traditions and the community. Some of our stuffed bears also got a new loving home with the kids in Vrhovine.
On our way back to Kuterevo, we stopped to visit Manja in her restaurant to say our wishes to her as well (“Hristos se rodi” – to what she answered “Vaistinu se rodi”). All in all it was a special experience, which all of us will remember 🙂