Monday, January 12, 2009

An Interesting Christmas Tradition

When we left our apartment on January 7th (Christmas Eve for the Orthodox), our neighbors had these branches with dead oak leaves on them propped up against the wall beside their door. As we walked through the city, we saw similar branches against other homes, fastened to vehicle grills and tucked under windshield wipers. We were told that the Orthodox tradition is to display these on Christmas Eve, and then to take them to a specific location (such as one of the Orthodox churches) and burn them. This rids one of evil spirits.

So, at about 6:00 pm we made our way to one of the tree burning areas to see for ourselves. We followed a man carrying a tree, and came to the same small chapel we had seen people entering for a wedding several months ago (when we visited the art museum. Sure enough, there were trees being burned. Also, some children were lighting sparklers. And for the more spiritually minded, there was a place for them to take communion and a place they could light a candle.

Some people still have their branches outside their doors or on their cars, I'm not sure why.

1 comment:

LynnyMama said...

is this sort of like the history behind bonfires & all saints eve-- that kind of thing-- it sounds sort of familiar or is it totally something local??