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vol 8 - issue 05 (jan 2006) :: stories
Tag-team written by Vinnie and #716

One is a certifiable genius. The other is Vinnie. Together, they are two of the most brilliant inventors in all of Pangaea. Wayne recognized this, and has given them a column to share with you the wonders of their progressive, modern minds.

You know, being Serbian is not just about hating Thomas Edison and starting World War I. We actually have a beautiful culture and history that most of you honkeys will never get to learn about (because of what some bad apples did during the mid-Nineties, which pissed Bill Clinton and his NATO buddies off, thus making us the scourge of the Mediterranean, which isnít an easy reputation to shake).
One of the most interesting cultural differences is our Christmas celebration. For the most part, our Christmas is your Christmas. We believe li'l Jesus was born to a virgin in a barn. We honor the myth of jolly old Saint Nick breaking and entering to leave a bunch of crap under our tree (most of which we'll re-gift next year). We have decorated trees, stockings by the fireplace, and big Christmas dinners.
What we donít do, however, is celebrate it on December 25th. For us, January 7th is the big day. Why? Well, there's a really long and boring story about papal decrees and lunar cycles leading to a showdown between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. And while the Gregorian came out on top, just know that we Serbs are a stubborn lot, and have refused to acknowledge that papal conversion.
So, what's a Serbian Christmas celebration like? Let me give you a quick tour of the unique customs and traditions my family practices.
In my family, Christmas Eve (or "Badnjidan") is the chief celebration. When I was younger, we practiced a popular old world custom where the firstborn of the house (me) would enter with a bag of straw, greet the rest of the family, and place the straw under the dinner table to symbolize the manger Jesus was born in. Then we'd sit down to eat a mostly meatless (fish only), totally dairyless meal. After dinner, the adults would throw change under the table into the hay for the smaller kids to search for. Once they got their grubby little hands on the coins they bolted towards all the presents under the tree and tore into them like starved badgers at a bus accident. Once my dad kindly picked up every piece of torn paper we'd all get ready for church, which always began with us standing out in the cold for the burning of the Yule log. The rest of the evening is pretty standard until Christmas Day.
If the Gods were kind to me and my sleep siblings, we got to sleep through Christmas Dayís lengthier church service and wake up to a nice bowl of homemade chicken soup and bread, which is called "pogecha" (but I think Iím killing that spelling). Dinner was a feast of sorts: turkey, mashed potatoes, sarma (cabbage rolls stuffed with pork), cold pork (with the pig's head as a centerpiece), and a whole slew of side dishes. Someone would say grace or sing a Christmas hymn, and then the money bread would be broken. All the men of the house would break it simultaneously and pass it to other members of the family from there. Whoever found the coin baked within the loaf was the recipient of a yearís worth of good luck. Of course, my baba (grandmother) would bake a million coins into it, so everyone walked away from dinner full and optimistic.
There are countless other things, too: the wheat plant placed in the center of the table, the lit candles, the kolac (sweet bread), walking around the table and kissing everyone European-style. But thereís another half to this column that someone else has to write... plus, I have to drive my ass twelve hours to celebrate all of this.

It's finally here! The day I spend all year (or at least the first six days of it) looking forward to has finally arrived: Serbian Christmas! This year, I plan to celebrate the holiday as is the tradition in my family: by putting in an eight-hour day at the office! Hooray for Serbian Christmas!
Now, I know what you're thinking. "But, #716," you say (mispronouncing my name as "Seven-One-Six" instead of the proper "Seven-Sixteen"), "Serbian Christmas falls on a Saturday this year. How could you possibly be spending the day at work?" Well, don't worry your inquisitive, anonymous little head, dear reader. As luck would have it, "several" (the Serbian word for "every last fucking one of 'em") of my co-workers decided not to submit their December timecards before Normal Human Christmas two weeks ago, so I've been volunteered/forced to help the payroll department all day Saturday and Sunday in order to get the paychecks in the mail by Monday morning! It's a Serbian Christmas miracle!
I have the entire evening perfectly planned after getting home from work, too: the traditional Jack's frozen pizza for my holiday meal, exchanging gifts with all my major home appliances (I sure hope Washing Machine likes the filthy hooded sweatshirt I got for him), and the annual realization that I'm not Serbian and that I had a wonderful Christmas visit with my family last month. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. After all, that would spoil the magic that is Serbian Christmas.
Sretan Bo"zi'c, svako.

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