Christmas in Montenegro, as with destinations world over, is a genuinely special time of year, where families come together and feasting is the order of the day.
However, the lead up to Christmas is almost as exciting as the day itself. If you happen to be in Montenegro for the festive period, it’s well worth visiting one of the country’s many picturesque towns to enjoy the festivities and watch the badjnaks burn, an ancient pastime and a staple Balkan Christmas custom.
The tradition is a cherished one among Montenegrin families. A badjnak is a fire that burns at Christmas, however, the practise truly starts before any flames begin to flicker. Every Christmas Eve, it’s traditional to see a patriarch of the household symbolically go into the woods to find the first Yule Log. It is from this piece of wood that the Christmas fire is lit and remains so throughout Christmas Day.
Another popular highlight at Christmas is The Bay of Kotor. A winter haven as well as a summer hotspot, Perast is often considered one of the most picture perfect villages in the bay and has a festive atmosphere to match in December.
Montenegro’s potent Rakija (brandy), makes quite an appearance at this time of year. A staple within any Montenegrin home, at Christmas even those who often skip this customary, yet alcoholic aperitif and digestif, pick up the typical shot glass for the annual toast of good cheer.
And on a side note, if you find yourself in Montenegro to see in the New Year, the Feast of Sveti Vasilije Veliki sees Orthodox New Year celebrations in front of local churches all over Montenegro. On 19 January, many celebrate Epiphany. During this time, there are swimming races and festivals on the coast in somewhat icy waters – you would be excused for giving this tradition a miss!
To learn more about Montenegro’s Christmas traditions, click here . Remember to share your festive pictures with us via Twitter and Instagram @lusticabay
Click here to read Luštica Bay’s latest season magazine, which contains your essential guide to spending Christmas in Montenegro, skiing in the region’s national parks and much more.