Christmas Customs........

Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!  Vaistinu se rodi!


 Peace of God, Christ is born!  Indeed he is born!


American Serb kids always considered themselves so lucky, because they had “TWO” Christmases (and if you were lucky enough to have Sveti Nikola as your Slava, it was like you had THREE!)

How’s that? Well, in our house, we celebrated what we called American” Christmas on Dec. 25with most of the other people of the world.  To us, it was Santa Claus, a decorated Christmas tree and presents that we opened in earnest.  Only six days before on Dec. 19, however, we also got a present of sorts: a long heavy-duty cotton-nylon stocking filled with apples, oranges and nuts and a silver dollar at the bottom that came from St. Nicholas.

But our “REAL” Christmas, we knew, the celebration of the Birth of Jesus, was on January 7 We never went to school that day, nor on our Slava! We went to church, and celebrated the great day with our larger Eastern Orthodox Christian family!

Milana Karlo was excused for 1 day, being absent Dec. 19, 1956, the “Remarks” section showing she was celebrating a Serbian holiday!  Her reporting teacher, Mr. Fred W. Schmidt, signed her in on Dec. 20th.  Other instructors had to sign it too!  The educators at South High School in Pittsburgh knew about Serbian customs, as “special teachers” were invited to celebrate with the family!

Old Postcard from Facebook 11/5/11

Is Serbian Christmas still celebrated?

Jocey braiding the Ćesnica (Kolach) for Christmas under the watchful eye of her Baba Mim.


Yes, American Serbs are STILL celebrating their unique heritage guarded so jealously and handed down from generation to generation.

Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!

Peace on Earth, Christ is Born, glorify Him!

 We celebrate the Nativity of our Lord in two different ways: 

(1) A secular festival like that mentioned above with the happy sounds, smells and sights of Christmas, bringing a spirit  of human warmth and friendliness to our hearts.  This brightens up life and brings a measure of joy to the earth.  Nothing illustrates this better than the communal fellowship of the Serbian Yule Log ceremony seen below. 

(2) And a religious observance. The whole Advent Season is a reason for discipline and fasting.  Some people “fast” for 6 weeks, other Serbian Orthodox Christians for a week before taking Confession and Communion.  This fast asks that no meat nor dairy products are consumed during the fasting period.  This is a time that draws us nearer to God, a time for deepening our Faith, and for increasing the vitality of our prayers as we await the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, the true reason for the season.


Badnji Dan (January 6th) in Aliquippa, PA.

On the way to the St. Elijah Picnic grounds in Aliquippa, PA to retrieve the Yule Log. There is usually a large caravan of cars waving red, blue, white Serbian ribbons or flags, with the horns beeping to let people in the community know that the Serbs are getting ready to celebrate their Christmas.

The young oak tree, the “Badnjak” or Yule Log is loaded into the truck after the St Elijah Choir sang “Rozdestvo” and the V.Rev. Fr. Stepanov blessed the tree especially planted for just his occasion.

St.Elijah, Aliquippa, PA 2012


Oj Badnjace, badnjace, ti nas stari rodjace,

Dobro si nam doshao, i u kuchu ushao

Mili Srpski badnjace, ti nas stari rodjace

Badnjace, badnjace, rodjace, rodjace.

Click here to hear children in Belgrade singing this song to the Yule Log.


Members of the Ohio Valley Marine Corps detachment are an important part of the ceremonies each year at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh. They send off a 21-gun salute to the Badnjak, making the ceremony even more colorful for the many families gathered.

Everybody loves the closeness of family!


And from Holy Trinity’s PAST Christmas Eve Badnjak services is this photo with V. Rev. Fr. Milan Savich, Sam Vignovic and Mike Milan by fire.

Press on the link below to learn more about Serbian Christmas Customs courtesy of the Serbian Unity Congress (S.U.C.) where you’ll find great info about the “Polaznik”-representing Christ himself coming into the World!

Serbian Christmas Customs<—-click here



On the morning of 7th January, at Christmas, the first man who comes into our house is called the “Polaznik”. He comes full of good wishes and with a good heart. He brings happiness to the family.

The Polaznik takes his stick and stirs up the embers in the fire and says:

Polaznik tapom promjea ar u vatri i kaze:

“Koliko varnica, toliko ovaca! Koliko varnica, toliko novaca! Koliko varnica, toliko zdravlja!

“As many sparks, may you be blessed with as many sheep! As many sparks, may so much money and riches come to the family! As many sparks, so to you all good health!”

The family offers him kolivo (wheat & sugar and nuts) and red wine, which he takes prior to leading the Blessing for the family. Before lunch, while the fire burns, the family readies the roasted pig and everything else for Christmas dinner. For sure on the table would be found “schlivovitz” -old plum brandy, dry figs, shenitsa (wheat grown since St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 19) , which harvests indicates a happy year.

Hosts and guests stand around the table, and the head of the family, usually the father, lights a candle. This moment marks the beginning of “Mirboenja” (peace and reconciliation). Everyone says, “Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!” (Peace of God, Christ is born!) Then they all kiss each other to the peace of God! If there were any disagreements and quarrels before, all is forgotten. “Vaistinu se rodi!” -Indeed He is Born! goes the refrain!

@1984: Takashi, +Gus, Nick, Mama and Papa Bizic turned the Kolach. Papa made the sign of the cross with the knife, cutting the bread into 4 pieces. Everyone kisses the bread and each other, and whoever finds the coin inside the bread is supposed to be lucky all year!

Nick’s picture entitled “Teti Ann Finds the Coin!” dated 1/7/79 shows Nick’s aunt jumping up into the air, kicking her heels together in joy after finding the coin in the Cesnica (kolach), knowing she is promised “Good Luck” in the coming year. Note the pig’s head on the table with the apple in his mouth, the 3 homemade beeswax candles, the straw and coins under the table, and the St. George painting to the far right!


Here’s a photo from the past. This photo was prepared for Milan Karlo who was anxious to fit it in his January, 1948 issue of American SERB LIFE. However, in those days, months were needed ahead of time to publish the information. This photo was taken in October or November of 1947 so it could be included in the Christmas issue. The “straw” my grandfather, Nikola Mamula, was reaching for was nothing but crushed-up paper in a bag. Our ‘psenica’ was a snake plant! But at least Baba had time to make us a Pogacha for the procession!

Sister Rose is the smallest walking, cousin Marty An is behind her, and I’m the tallest walking. Cousin Paul is in Aunt Marty Belosh’s arms. Papi was 77 yrs. old at the time.)

Papi (Nikola Mamula married Andja Mamula on December 7, 1900 in Pittsburgh, PA) making the three Beeswax candles for us.

From a speech given by Milan Karlo for the First Serbian Youth Conference in Pittsburgh during the 40th Anniversary celebration of the SNF.

Some of the Mamula Cousins, 2016

Mamula Cousins 1.7.2016 Serbian Christmas at Jennifer and Sasha Trklja’s home in Pittsburgh.


Danny Kukich Family Celebrates 2012

Below: 2014–Stevie Capuzzi finds the lucky coin!

Happy Brother-in-law, Bojan Popovich shares in Steve’s happiness!


January 7, 2014

Our grandparents would be proud to know that we’re still keeping the family traditions alive!  Serbian Christmas 2014.

More Photos:Christmas Day with Our Mamula Family

“Oce Nas” (Our Father) prayers are said first, followed by a chorus of “Rozdestvo!”- Jesus’ Birth! The straw was under the table representing the manger where Jesus was born, and the “dushitsa” candle was lit to remember all of our ancestors.

Rozdestvo Tvoje

Rozdestvo Tvoje, Hriste Boze nas, Vozsija mirovi sjet razuma Vnembo zvjezdam sluzasci zvjezdoju ucahusja. Tjebje klanjatisja solncu pravdi; I tebje vjedjeti svisoti vostoka, Gospodi, slava Tebje!

, , . ; , , !

Here’s an old version of “Rozdestvo” from Steve Kozobarich’s blog on old Serbian music.

“Rozdestvo” <——click here to hear

(Thy Nativity)

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, Raised the light of knowledge in the world; And those who worshiped the stars were thought by the stars To worship Thee, O sun of Justice, And to know Thee as the East of the heights, O Lord, glory to Thee!

Happy Holidays to ALL!


From a Christmas card purchased in the Serbian Orthodox Church in Lansing, IL

You can zoom to make this bigger! Enjoy!

Here’s a great story about the wonderful ZIVKOVICH family of Pittsburgh’s Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral keeping their Christmas traditions alive:

“Celebrating the HOLY days: Serbian Orthodox Recognize the Season Through Practices Rich in Tradition,” by Dona Dreeland, Pine Creek Journal of January 8, 2009, p. 13, 19.


From the American SRBOBRAN (Amerikanski SRBOBRAN) Sreda, 20 Maya, 1992, R’cvd.12/28/09

A PRAYER by Olivera Beljakovich-Terzich (1922-1990)

Christmas 1967

In exile

Translated by her son, Dr. Branko Terzic



Christmas approaches, busily we prepare

A fire blazes on the hearth,

Carols fill the air.


Carols to God and liberty,

Carols to God and family,


As long as Your glory we celebrate,

As long as Your hymns we venerate,


A Carol to a mother’s distant grace

A Carol for us, strangers in this place.


Return us dear God so we may see,

Our Serbian nation again free.



Boi dolazi, sve se sprema

Ha ognjity Vatra Gori

Pjesma se pjeva


Pjesma Bogu za Slobodu

Pjesma Bogu i svom rodu

Pesma majci i daljini

Pjesma nama u tudjini

Dok se slavi ime trovje

Dok se pjesme tebi poje

Uzvati nam mili Bogu

Sprskom rodu ti slobodu


The Serbian section editor of the SRBOBRAN, Dr. Branko Mikasinovich, wrote how he read with excitement Olivera Beljakovich-Terzich’s poem, that had been written in 1966.

“The poem indicates the talent and sensitivities felt by the intimacies and depths of the heart. From this arises a poem that is clean, unpretentious and written with humility. The poem is of impressive quality and expresses Olivera’s love of her ancestors-Serbia- and her race/relatives with poignancy. Lyrical Olivera characterizes lightness of expression, poignancy and motherly sensibilities.”


Dr. Mikasinovich also worked for Voice of America, Serbian Service, and is a well-recognized figure in Serbia today.


Nothing like the radiance of a child’s face…

grandniece Amelia in Virginia…

Srecan Bozic i savko dobro u novoj godini

A Joyous Christmas and Every Good Wish for the Coming New Year!

(My Cyrillic version disappeared! Hmmm!)


S Mirom slavi badnji dan

Nek ti radost kroz dom tece

S mirom slavi Badnje vece.


(in this quietude of joyfully awaiting Christmas eve, May happiness flow throughout your home, this beautiful, peaceful Christmas Eve.)


, !

Peace of God, Christ is Born!


+++Cyrillic+++Again, it’s Gone!



Nek je srecan badnjak novi

Bog nek vas blagoslovi,

Nek Vam srecom dom zablista

Na Rodjendan Boga Hrista!


May your new yule log bring luck

May God’s blessings be upon you

May your home shine from happiness

On the birthday of our Lord, Jesus Christ!


From Robin Rombach, Pittsburgh Post-Gabette photographer!

(Mim Bizic with some of the Serbian Christmas items: psenica, kolach and the bread baked with a lucky coin.)

Moon woman keeps Serbian Orthodox Christmas customs alive

Thursday, January 07, 2010

By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Perched in a sunny spot on Mim Bizic’s kitchen counter is a glass bowl that, at first glance, appears to be green grass growing from a bed of pebbles.


But the pebbles are grains of wheat that have broken open to release the shoots of new life — a biblical metaphor for Jesus’ death and resurrection taken from the Gospel of John. This tiny garden of wheat is a psenica (SHEN-it-za), a Christmas tradition in the Serbian Orthodox Church, which keeps to the Old Calendar date of Jan. 7


The seeds are planted in a bowl Dec. 19, St. Nicholas Day, and watered after a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Waiting for them to grow is a spiritual exercise.


“Isn’t it a fun way to pass the short, dark days waiting for the birth of Christ?” said Ms. Bizic, who retired five years ago as a librarian in the Quaker Valley School District. The green wheat is held tall and straight by a circlet of ribbon in the Serbian national colors of red, blue and white.


“When you first put the wheat in, you wonder if it will grow. But then you see it put out these little knots, and then the shoots. You can see it grow the next day and the next. It fills you with happiness,” she said.


Her home in Moon has been fully decorated for Christmas, which she joked that she celebrates three times. There is St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 19, and then Dec. 25 for what she calls “American Christmas,” complete with presents. But the holy day, and the day of the most treasured customs, was always Jan. 7.


She is the granddaughter of Serbian immigrants who grew up on the South Side. She never felt odd for celebrating Christmas in January. Her German, Polish, and Lithuanian American friends enjoyed participating in the family celebrations with her.


There was the Christmas tradition of lighting three candles — in honor of the Holy Trinity — while reciting the Lord’s Prayer. There was also a tradition of baking a coin into a special loaf of bread, which was passed around the table as a hymn was sung. The coin was supposed to bring luck to whoever found it.


Ms. Bizic is recording all of these traditions and many more on her Web site — the name means Grandma Mim. It’s a virtual museum of Serbian culture, which her home has been for many years. Just inside the front door visitors are greeted with a portrait of Karadjordje, who led the Serbs to independence from the Turks in 1804. Every wall is filled with icons, folk art and family mementos.


All of this she passed along to her son, Nick, who is teaching it to his 3-year-old daughter, Jocelyn. Ms. Bizic’s Web site includes a series of photographs in which she and Jocelyn prepared a psenica. Her son has also spread the tradition to some of his Texas neighbors.


This year her parish, St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, sold kits to make psenicas. The proceeds will be sent to Kosovo to buy firewood.


“Even though we might not make that much money selling the kits, we’re keeping the custom alive for harried families who might not have the time to go shopping to a specialty store to buy loose wheat,” she said.


On Christmas, the psenica takes its place at the center of the family table, where it is part of all of the family prayers and rituals.


Afterward it is given to the birds.


“We bless ourselves and make a grand send-off,” Ms. Bizic said. “We say, ‘We thank you, psenica, for being with us and making us happy through this whole season of expectation.’ “


Ann Rodgers can be reached at or 412-263-1416.


St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church Christmas Day

(Click lower right hand corner to enlarge photo)

Mike Rebich and his 3-Cannon Shots for Christmas

Every Badnji Vece (Serbian Christmas Eve on January 6!) , at 4:00 PM, a line of cars and trucks decorated with Serbian flags (trobonicas) leaves St. Elijah Church area in Aliquippa, PA, in a parade-like caravan, to head towards the Serbian picnic grounds behind the Serbian cemetery. Their mission is to cut down the Yule Log and bring it back for waiting parishioners who will each take a piece of the Yule Log home before Christmas Eve services later that night. (See above photos)

After the tree is cut at the picnic grounds, and Fr. Stepanov blesses it, a loud cannon booms a 3-cannon salute. Joyously, the St. Elijah Choir sings “Rozdestvo Tvoje” (Thy Nativity Oh Lord!) and “S’nami Bog!”(God is with us!”) before heading back caravan-style to the Church Hall.

The 3-barrelled cannon was made by St. Elijah long-time member, Mike Rebich. He invented and designed the three-barrel cannon to do the honored 3-gun salute. Mike says his inspiration was Fr. Stepanov’s recollections as a young boy in the old country where the custom of shooting guns off on Christmas Eve was to let others know your village/city is celebrating the birth of Christ.

(Immigrant Serbs in Douglas, Alaska from 1900 can be seen doing the same in old-time photos!)

Mike proudly calls his invention “Holy Trinity.”

“Holy Trinity” is put into operation on Christmas Day also. At the end of the morning church service, Fr. Stepanov says triumphantly, “Mir Bozji, Hristos se rodi!” (Peace on Earth, Christ is Born!”)

The congregation excitedly responds, “Va Istinu se rodi!” (Indeed He is Born!”)

And the cannon produces a loud boom outside which makes everyone so happy in remembrance of all the memories shared in years gone by.

Again and again it’s repeated (3 Times in all)

“Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!”

“Va Istinu se Rodi!

And another blast and another from “Holy Trinity”.

(This has been done for so many years now, the surrounding neighbors/residents of Aliquippa know they have nothing to fear!)

Mike is a skilled electrician and now we can add a talented innovator as well. Mike has always donated his services to the church and to the Diocese. He and his wife Marie attend church services regularly. Marie sings in the St. Elijah Choir and also the KCC Choir on special Holy Days.

Mike and Marie Rebich’s children include Eli, Betty, Mike, Yvonne, Danny and Lynette.

They have 17 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild with another on its way!

God bless them for sharing their wonderful gifts!


Milan, Milan Sr., Melanie, Nicky Tomich of Pittsburgh, PA.

Hear Melanie’s Mother sing TIHA NOC (Silent Night) in Serbian here from January 6, 1956, thanks to the great computer efforts of Melanie’s husband Tim. Tosho Erdel sings Silent Night in English

I just love this! I’ve played it over and over!



Badnji Vece, Christmas Eve Among the Serbs (American SRBOBRAN)

(American SRBOBRAN)

by Milana (Mim) Karlo Bizic

December 1, 2010


BADNJAK-from the St. Sava Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA,1974 with the help of Fr. Milan Markovina, by Branko & Milka Miric, in memory of their daughter, Jovanka, who was killed in an automobile accident.


Last Wednesday night at St. Elijahs Choir practice, many song sheets were spread on the beneath-the-church Hall tables, including this time, some Christmas music.We were preparing for a concert at Old Economy Village in Ambridge that included various ethnic choirs.But lo and behold!There was also an old BADNJAK book from 1974 that was from the Serbian Singing Federation in America under one of the piles, probably placed there by serendipity and waiting to be discovered.


To put this in time perspective, there was this note on the inside cover:Approved by the Episcopal Council Serbian Orthodox Church in America, and the names of Rt. Rev. Bishop Dr. Sava, Rt. Rev. Bishop Dr. Firmilian, and Rt. Rev. Bishop Gregory.


The rich and colorful ceremony of the Badnjak (Yule Log) brings a unique warmth to the celebration of Christmas.The basic elements of the log, the fire, the dried fruits and nuts, the grains, and the Lenten pogaca (flatbread) deliver us over to the humble spirit of the manger.Here we discard the commercialism of our times and return to the pastoral beauty of the first Nativity.We abandon sophistication and enter into the simple and pure joy of the shepherds.Status in life does not matter here, for it is transcended by our common aspiration to the higher love of God and neighbor.This is the spirit of Christmas.


That was enough for me.All during choir practice, while our directress, Marion, was working with the sopranos, altos and basses, I kept glancing through the yellowed pages, anxious to read more.It was like finding a little treasure as it said it contained the explanation and origin of the Yule Log ceremony as celebrated in the Serbian Orthodox home, and the rituals of the Badnjak and the Badnjidanski Kolac (Christmas Eve bread.)It was written in Church Slavonic and Serbian, with an English translation, and was taken from Lukicev Zbornik, mainly a collection of Serbian choral works for male chorus published in Serbia.Best of all, it contained a television text for an adaptation of these rituals with explanation, carols and liturgical responses suitable for a half-hour TV presentation.


How well I remember how our Pittsburgh area Serbian churches would always appear on the radio or on KDKA TV before (60s) and around (70s) this time!Much of it was due to the hard preparation PR work by Milan Tomich, Fr. Velimir Kovachevich (+Metropolitan Christopher) and +V. Rev. Fr. Stavrophor Milan Savich.Im smiling now as I remember sometime in the early 1960s driving Dane Topich to a TV Channel 4 recording session for Christmas services, and because of the ice under the snow, me gently bumping into another car in the parking lot right before we were to get out of the car! Poor Dane was shook up, but I assured him it was only the bumper! (;-)), and inside we went to join the other Serbian Orthodox College Youth gathered there under Fr. Vel’s wings. Joi!!!


The carols and liturgical music are the works of various Serbian composers and arrangers, and some were published earlier by the Serbian Singing Federation in separate editions.This printing was inspired during the SSF presidency of Marko Rakovich, and brought to fruition under the presidency of Mike Lonchar.Many thanks to these gentlemen and the SSF Executive Boards of 1973 and 1974 for their leadership and incentive.A special thanks to Executive Secreatary, Paul Bielich, for his excellent coordinative efforts.


Many people helped to bring this work to fruition.Special thanks were granted to V. M. Lugonja, Executive Secetary Emeritus of the SSF, for proof-reading the texts; to artist Drakse, for the beautiful cover illustrations; to Adolph Musiol for proof-reading the music; to V.Rev. Frs. George Lazich and Milorad Dobrota for music from their libraries; to Della Kosanovich for typing the texts; to the Stevan Sijacki Choir for assembling and distributing the books.V. Rev. Fr. Milan P. Markovina ended the Preface with these words:It is hoped this publication will enhance the spiritual joy of the Nativity for Serbian Orthodox Christians everywhere.


Looking at all these names makes one travel back, back, back in time.. and makes us realize how much love of Serbian heritage and wonderful talent we have lost to the years since.


On Christmas Eve, the Serbian people have the custom of bringing in the Badnjak (Yule Log) and placing it on the hearth.This is a very ancient custom and it exists in many different forms in all European countries.It is most characteristic with the Serbians for it is carried out is a special form on Christmas Eve.


When the Serbs were Christianized, the yule log symbolized the tree upon which Christ was crucified and the ceremony is dedicated to the spiritual light Christ brought into the world through His divine birth and the glad tidings he preached.


For the Badnjak ceremony, a branch is cut from an oak tree which will be placed on a great fire.The following items are needed:


1.A large fire into which the badnjak will be placed.

2.The badnjak, taken from the oak.

3.A large pogaca, unleavened loaf of bread, flat and circular, which should be coated on top with honey, and which is placed in a large dish.This is the badnjidanski dolac.Along with this is placed a bowl pull of wheat, corn kernels, barley and oats (or just wheat), a glass of vegetable oil, a glass of red wine, a large decorated Christmas candle in a holder, a bowl of water, a bouquet of Basil plant, and a bowl of walnuts.


An aisle is formed from the entrance door to the hearth by two rows of celebrants, twelve of them holding candles, six on each side.The badnjicari are preceded by a flag-bearer who carries the flag to the hearth and greets the domacin:Dobro vece domacine, I cestito ti I srecan badnje vece sa svima tvojim ukucanima.


(Flagbearer says:Good evening, O Host, and a joyous and blessed Christmas Eve to you and the members of your household!)


He then places the flag to the side of the hearth.The badnjak is placed in the fire.The badnjicari then take a place to either side of the hearth and remain there to the end of the ceremony.As the badnjicar enter, the choir sings, Oj Badnjace, Badnjace!


The domacin takes the sieve with the grains in it and throws the grains on the badnjicari as they enter and walk toward the hearth.(The domacin does this while standing in front of the hearth.)The domacin answers the badnjicariis greeting with, Bog it pomogao I cestito nam I sretno bilo badnje vece I nastupajuci Bozic.


(Host says:May the Lord be with you and may we have a joyous and blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas on the morrow!)


When the badnjaks are placed on the fire, the domacin approaches them, makes the sign of the cross on himself, and sprinkles them with the grains saying, U ime Oca I Sina I Svetoga Duha, Amin.Badnjace veseljace, mi tebe zitom, a ti nas rodnom I sitom godinom.


(Host says: In the name of the Father, and Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.O joyous yule log!As we sprinkle you with wheat, may the ensuing year be fruitful and plentiful!)


He takes the glass of wine, crosses himself, sprinkles the badnjak and says, U ime Oca I Sina, I Svetoga Duha, Amin.Badnjace, veseljace, mi tebi wina, a ti nama srece, mira I svakog Bozijeg blagoslova!


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amin.O joyous yule log!As we sprinkle you with wine, may good fortune, peace, and every blessing of God be ours!


He then takes the glass of vegetable oil, blesses himself, pours the oil on the badnjak saying, U ime Oca I Sina I Svetoga Duha, Amin.Badnjace, veseljace, mi tebi mira, I ti nama zdravlja I napretka u radu I na svakom nasem koraku.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.O joyous yule log!As we sprinkle you with oil, may health and progress, be ours in our work and in each of our footsteps!


At this moment, the guns shoot.


The domacin then takes straw and spreads it around the entire room and finally takes the walnuts and strews them in the form of a cross to the four sides of the room.


During this activity, the choir sings.


In Part II, the Priest and Choir are more involved.The Choir will sing Slava Vo Visnjih Bogu and the Christmas Hymn of Rozdestvo Tvoje and perhaps at the end, Bozic, Bozic, Blagi Dan.


Mirobozanje.Now, all are invited to exchange a Christmas kiss, holding each other above the forearms, and kissing the shoulder, saying, Christ is among us, and the answer:He is and will be.



Dear SRBOBRAN Readers, I wish you the very joyous of holidays to celebrate with your friends and relatives.Since I began writing this story, weve had another choir practice and Ive returned the books from whence the information above came.Last night was a night of love.We distributed the candy we sold as a fund-raiser to all hard-working choir members to further pass on, and we also packed almost a hundred PSENICA kits before practicing our Christmas songs.Some of our psenicas are going to be traveling far this year, with the help of a few SRBOBRAN orders.


We send greetings to all of you, especially Dr. Nanette Wuchenich who purchased 16 full kits from us to distribute to her nieces and nephews, several of them still in collage.May your psenicas grow as beautifully and plentifully as you all did!Too, we should have a research experiment going on to see if psenicas grow greener and taller in sunny California as opposed to here in Pittsburgh where we have some white snow on the ground, or where Stevo and Lana Baich have 4 feet and more of the white stuff in Lackawanna!


Life is good.I had a new Serbian Spruce planted today to replace the one that has been with me since I first moved here to Moon Township twenty years ago.It was as if I could hear the words:

Rejuvenate, rebirth REJOICE!

To all of you,

Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!SNAMI BOG!

Ready for Jan.7th Serbian Christmas

Bizic home, 2012/Srbobran


Have some Vruće Rakije!

1/2 cup Sugar

1.5 c ups  of Šlivovitz (Plum Brandy)

3 cups Water

Stir sugar in a stainless steel pan.  Let sugar melt and turn into a brown liquid.

When brown and carmelized, but not burnt, immediately remove from heat and CAREFULLY, SLOWLY, add 1.5 cups Šlivovitz and 3 cups water.

(John Mrmak of Canada says the water is Optional!  Ha!)

My father, Milan Karlo, wrote this beautiful story called “The Winter Tale”, based on an old Serbian folktale. It appeared on the front page in the December 30, 1964 issue of the American SRBOBRAN:

There’s a beautiful story making the rounds again this Christmas season of bright smiles, firm handshakes and expressions of good will. It’s reputedly fact, although local legend may have been included.

Locale opens in the lot of a poor wood-cutter. He and his young son are busy felling the trees and chopping the same into wood for sale in the local mart, a-swarm with pre-Christmas shoppers.

Eyeing the bundle he is to shoulder to the mart, the youth expresses hope enough that it will be sold to provide a fine meat dinner for the family. The father congratulates him for always looking “on the bright side.”

Enroute to the market, the youth is accosted by several people, all of whom warn him about an old man on the edge of town who asks passersby to help him with his load. The old man is described, variously, as a potential thief, a miser, and a lazy bum.

The first “description,” as the story goes, comes from a man with a fat goose under his arm. He grins, in a “knowledgeable” way, as he relates how he was too clever to be taken in by the “crafty old codger” who, he alleged, aimed to make off with the goose once it was laid down and the pack picked up.

The second description is furnished by an older boy, a self-styled “go-getter” who first inquired about pay. When told there was none, he turned on the old man with a “miser” charge.

Next, the youth of the story is warned by a man in a handsome fur coat and top hat, leaning on a gold-headed cane. He is shaking in anger and indignation that he, of ALL people, should be asked to carry a peddler’s load.

At sight of the bundle of wood on the youth’s shoulder, his anger mellows. In his best oratorical tones, he congratulates the youth for “shouldering his own load, not like the lazy old man down on the road.”

“He is dressed like a beggar, but he had the AUDACITY to call me his ‘friend,'” he related to the youth. Then drawing himself up to his full height, he continued: “I told him, I’m not your ‘Friend,’ and why you don’t carry your own burden instead of sitting there taking your ease?”

The youth’s faith in mankind remained unshaken. Eventually, he came upon the “frail old man” with a long, white beard. A rough brown hood was pulled over his face. His hands were blue with cold and he was shivering in his thin, poor clothing.
Yes, he would shoulder the load, he answered. He would pile it atop the one he was already carrying — and he proceeded to do so. But after several steps, he knew he’d never make it and suggested they proceed the shorter distance back to the boy’s home where the old man could be warmed while he (the youth) made two trips to town.

The climax of the story is reached when the old man is bade fond welcome by the youth’s mother, “to warm yourself by the fire” as the youth offers to carry his pack to journey’s end.

“My journey ends right here,” came the reply. And to the astonishment of the family, he said, “The heavy pack belongs to you.” All sorts of wonderful things tumbled out of his bag as he unsheathed it: foods, toys, and at the bottom, a sack of gold.

Now the traveler flung back his hood, revealing a noble face and dark eyes shining with love and goodness.

“Bishop Nicholas!” exclaimed the youth’s mother as she fell on her knees. He was indeed the kindly bishop from Myra, well known as a generous, saintly man.

As the children knelt for his blessings, he explained that every year he distributed gifts for the Christ child. This year he decided to test the good-will of those who received them, and hence, the “masquerade.”

Turning to the boy, he said: “You alone, my son, proved worthy!”

Fact or fiction, the story makes for good reading.
Icon of the Birth of Christ

The late V.Rev. Dr. Bishop Nikolai (now St. Nikolai who once lived in Aliquippa for a short while with V. Rev. Vlastimir Tomich while studying) wrote that the Badnjak is the finest and foremost custom of the many traditions by which our people enhance the Christmas celebration. An Oak is chosen because it is usually the most solid tree and produces the most heat.

He called the Badnjak a symbol of “the tree of happiness and sweetness, the tree of health, strength and youth, the tree of life and love. ” He continued: “The real tree of happiness is He who was born on that radiant day. Bringing the Badnjak into the house represents Christ’s coming into the world and His coming into our homes and our souls.”

The Badnjak represents Christ. As a young and powerful tree the King of love gave Himself to be slain in order to rejuvenate the world by the fragrance of eternal youth; to thaw a frozen mankind by the fire of His love; to enlighten and bring joy to all men by the fame of His Divine Revelation.”

Erv Dyer, then at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and now with the University of Pittsburgh wrote about St. Elijah’s Badnji Vecer in Aliquippa in 2004 and maintaining traditions:

Fr. Stevan Stepanov helped with the explanation:

“One of the key rituals is the burning of the badnjak, or yule log, a young oak tree decorated with red, blue and white ribbons — the colors of the Serbian flag. The branches are covered with candy and honey, in the hope of a sweet new year to come.

It is highly symbolic of Christ, said the Rev. Stevan Stepanov, who has led the church for more than 20 years.

“Because the tree is young, it represents the Christ child; its hard wood stands for the strength of God; the fire is symbolic of trial and persecution. As the tree burns, its sparks take flight, a symbol of the light that Christians holds for the world; its smoke ascends to heaven, representing the spirit of Christ.

Erv continued his story:

“At St. Elijah, parishioners arrived yesterday afternoon in cars bedecked in red, blue and white ribbons to chop down the young oak tree, which is planted every year, just for this special occasion. A special prayer was recited and a choir sang.

“Afterward, in a church ceremony, the children threw wheat, nuts and coins as the tree passed by. The priest led the way, trailed by altar boys carrying crosses and icons from the altar. The priest blessed the icons, the family and the “home.”

“After the liturgy, the Serbs take the badnjak outside and set it on fire. As the sparks fly in the cold air, they say prayers and parishioners are given oak sprigs to take home and place next to their icons.”

Read the whole story here:


More Explanations about the Wheat we grow….

The custom of sprouting wheat on St. Nicholas Day is a custom of the Serbian Orthodox Church. This custom is one of the many home celebrations and traditions that integrate , the life of the Church into the life of the family. This custom is one of ihe first among many in preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ.

In the sprouting of wheat there are many symbols of the Gospel, Christ and His birth. The first symbol we see is in the size of the grain of wheat; it is very small and when it sprouts it is close to a hundred times its size. From this we should recall the Gospel message about faith; if you had the faith of a mustard seed you could do great and marvelous things. When we look at the wheat berry it is hard to believe or have faith that it is going to become something.

The next symbol we see is the white shoot coming out of the wheat berry as it sprouts. This shows the purity of Christ’s birth. That he was born of the Virgin, who did not know a man and that she remained a virgin after His birth.

The third symbol is the green growth from the wheat berry; in this we are reminded of two distinct things.-

First we see the wheat berry change its form to the point that it is almost unrecognizable.

In this we are reminded of the Gospel message of that a seed cast upon the ground must die and rise again. Thus, we are given an image of the Resurrection the purpose of Christ’s birth; our salvation.We must also recall that many times Christ appeared to His disciples and they barely recognized Him.

The second thing is that we are reminded of our new life in Christ, which was given to us by His birth, by the new life we see before us in the growing wheat.

The fourth symbol deals with the color of the wheat, green. Green is the color used by the Church to symbolize of new life and growth. Additionally, green is used by the Church as the symbol of Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit. Thus, the Comforter would not have been granted to us had Christ not come into the world, died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

In the growing wheat we see a fifth symbol, that of the creative force.

Thus, we are reminded of the Father’s creation of the world by speaking. The Word, the Son of God is this creative force.
Our caring for the wheat reminds of God’s Love for the world. Without our care the wheat would die, so without God’s Love for us we are dead. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son into the World for its salvation.

The next symbol is that of the candle that is placed in the center of the sprouting wheat. We are reminded that Christ is the light of the world that illumines all things.

The final symbols deals with what happens to the wheat prior to the Holy Supper on the eve of the Feast of Nativity. The top of wheat is trimmed to an even height and it is girded with a ribbon, in Serbian tradition the red, blue and white of the Serbian flag. These two actions are to remind us that we are under God, and are bound to follow His Law (Commandments) in obedience to him.

This sprouted wheat is used to decorate the home and used as a centerpiece for the Holy Supper. In this we see images of the Trinity, the Nativity, the Gospel messages and our way of life as Orthodox Christians.

In this small tradition we can see how our Faith must be lived and experienced daily and integrated into our way of being. That life can not be compartmentalized into the realms of secular and holy but must be united in order to grasp the true meaning of Christianity.

Sprouting of the wheat.


About the Polaznik:

The Polaznik (prononced “pole-lahz-neek), is the “first-comer.” He is supposed to be a young and dark-haired, and brings the family wishes for good fortune. He is greeted with the joyous greeting, “Mir Boziji, Hristos se Rodi!” and exchanges throwing of wheat with his host and hugs and 3-cheeked kisses. He is a symbol of the shepherds who came from the fields at the bidding of the angels to be the first to offer their praise to the newborn Child. So, the polazjnik must greet the family in the same way before being permitted to enter the house. He is usually rewarded with a monetary coin, wine, etc.
Christmas Greetings to all in the American SRBOBRAN:

People look forward to getting the Jan. 7 issue of the SRBOBRAN and greetings from fellow Serbs all over the USA, including the Prince and his family!

January 7, 2009 in Belgrade:
Midnight Service in Vracar
Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!
(Recipe for the Kolach or Chesnica like the bread on the table below is found on the Annotated Bibliography page of this website.)
“But where’s thepsenica?”
Well, we need some WHEAT
And a “trobonica” (Serbian ribbon of red/blue/white) to go around the psenica when its big enough!
Every year the psenica is planted on St. Nicholas’ Day, December 19th.
(Soak the wheat the night before
(Dec. 18th) and then drain it all in the morning.)
Too, some people don’t use any dirt at all. Just the wheat. We use dirt now.
“Oh, it’s so BEAUTIFUL!”
Just in time for Christmas!
Good Luck in the New Year!
Wheat: Reminds us that just as the wheat seed has to be planted in the earth and die before it grows and brings forth many times more grain, so do we have to die and be buried in the earth in order to have a new life in God’s Kingdom. In planting the psenica during CHristmas, it represents the “New Life” Christ is bringing to Mankind in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Bishop Mitrofan in Aliquippa on Christmas Day!

“Until next year!”
(No, only 4 days later, a Christening for Alexis Jo! The orchestra will be back and so will we!)


From Belgrade to Pennsylvania to Texas, our Grandparents and Parents would be so proud to see how we’re keeping up the great traditions and having a ball at the same time!

We absolutely LOVE our customs, our family and friends, world-wide & those in Heaven looking down on us as our Guardian Angels.


Thanks to Steve Kozobarich, we can still HEAR those Guardian Angels of ours. Click on the record below to listen to how THEY celebrated Badnji Dan and the Birth of Christ. Listen for the gunshots at the end. All the villagers did this in the Old Country and even here in America! At St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, PA, we still have someone shoot off the gun three times to welcome the Christ Child born on Christmas Day! Enjoy this treat!

Bokaljev San U Americi (1913)


Many people ask how to send Christmas greetings.

“Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!” means “Peace on Earth, Christ is Born!”

People answer back, “Vaistinu se Rodi!” or “Indeed He is Born!”

However, there are greetings that also warm your soul like these from V.Rev. Fr. Petar Petrovich from the Serbian Orthodox Church in Cincinnati:

“Zaista se Hristos Rodi!”

“Neka vase srce bude ispunjeno radoscu i blagoslovom o Bozicnim Praznicima i neka Vama i Vasima Milostivi Gospod daruje zdravlje, naredak i duhovni uzrast u 2010.godini.”


“May your heart be filled with the joys and blessings of this Holy Nativity Season and may Almighty God, grant you and your loved ones good health, prosperity and spiritual growth for 2010.”

Click lower right corner to enlarge photo above.

Merry Christmas from the Bizic Family!


Looking good. Added Trobonica (ribbon) today….



From the Parish Bulletin of St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church of Monroeville, 2009/2010.

Cyrillic, original form —

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Andjeli Pevaju

by St. Bishop Nikolai


In Latinica:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

No prekrasna i no tija,

nad peinom zvezda sija,

u peini mati spi,

nad Isusom andjel bdi.

Andjeli pevaju,

pastiri sviraju,

andjeli pevaju

mudraci javljaju:

to narodi ekae,

to proroci rekoe,

evo sad se u svet javi,

u svet javi i objavi:

Rodi nam se Hristos Spas

za spasenje sviju nas.

Aliluja, aliluja,

Gospodi pomiluj!


hanks to the lyrical skills of Dr. Branko Terzic,we have this wonderful translation from the poem above:

A night of beauty and silence

Above the manger, the stars in radiance

Within, a young mother somnolent,

Over the Christ, an angel vigilant

Angels voices singing,

Shepherds flutes playing,

Wise men heralding:

That the peoples anticipation

That the prophets prognostication

Now to the world proclaimed

To all announced and acclaimed

Christ is born! The exclamation.

For the worlds salvation.

Halleluj, Halleluj

Gospodi pomiluj!

(Lord have mercy!)





(Copy and paste the above into your browser to hear.)


“Celebrating the birth of Christ is a joyful endeavor. Hearts full of joy affect others. Joyful believers radiate their love of Christ. Individuals experiencing contact with joyful believers react. “

V.Rev. Fr. Rodney Torbic

1/4/10 Sunday Sermon


“May the Divine Light which shown brightly on the first Christmas Night Shine in your heart during this Holy Season.”

St. Elijah Church Bulletin



Excellent singing from children in Vojvodina @ Christmas!

A. Slavkovich Family sends Christmas greetings too…

Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi!
Although some people like to give monetary or other gifts on Orthodox Christmas, the very BEST gifts you can give in the name of the Christ Child are these:
The Gift of Love
Forgiveness to your enemies
Tolerance to your opponents
Your heart to a faithful friend
Charity to all you encounter
A good example to children
Self-respect for yourself.
The Gift of Patience
The Gift of Understanding
The Gift of Thoughfulness-
a kind word of encourage-ment, a smile, an attentive ear.
The Gift of Caring…
Don’t be indifferent to the needs of your neighbor– there are those around us who hunger–not just for food, but for love and attention.
is the greatest “GIFT” the world has ever received.
“Greeting you, Orthodox Serbs, on this Holy Day, I offer to the Lord this prayer:
That all Serbian maidens will look to the Holy Virgin Mary as an example of virgin purity, modesty and holiness.
That all Serbs in positions of power strictly obey the Commandments of God, as did the Righteous Joseph.
That all Serbian youth joyously celebrate with song the Savior of the world, as did the Angels of God.
That all simple Serbian laborers make haste to kneel to the Son of God with joy, as did the simple Shepherds of Bethlehem.
That all educated Serbs joyously offer their meager knowledge as a gift to the All-Knowing King, as did the Wise Magi from the east.
That all elder Serbs, looking upon the example of the elder Simon the God-receiver, extend their hands and receive Christ in their hearts, so that they may live with Christ eternally.
That all elder Serbian women and widows joyously commit themselves to the service of Christ and His Church, as did the Blessed Anna the daughter of Phanuel.
That all small Serbian children, martyred for Christ’s sake by contemporary Herods, rejoice eternally in the Heavens with the martyred children of Bethlehem.
And may no one of Serbian Orthodox name be found on the other side, in the ranks of the persecutors of Christ, included with blood-thirsty Herod and his brood of murderers.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer, and bless all those who joyously make this prayer, of your humble servant, their own.
Amen. (@1950)
from St. Nicholas Parish Reporter of Monroeville, PA, January 2010.
To view this photo larger, just click on the lower right hand corner

Marie & Mike Rebich

(See Story about Mike’s Christmas Cannon on this same page!)
Even though Mike doesn’t sing with the choir, he’s always willing to help his beloved wife, Marie, and his St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church Choir. The loving couple is shown here the morning of the the February 2010 Bowling Bowl, preparing food for the many hungry bowlers who will soon fill the hall!
Old Kumovi—the Stella (Grubesich) and Tuggers (Pete) Mamula Family celebrate Christmas. They all worked so hard for Shadeland!
Wonderful people!
Mr. Grubesich, his daughter Kuma Stella, Kum Tuggers Mamula, Peter Allen, David Michael, and Marsha. On Oct. 30, 2011, Marsha’s beautiful daughter, Jessica Susnjer, was married to James WargoTime flies fast, but the traditions continue!
for future generations!
Anne Tumbas wrote a beautiful story in the Glas Kanadskih Srb (The Voice of Canadian Serbs) in their January, 1969 issue about Serbian Orthodox Christmas and the date of January 7th.
Anne was also editor of the American SRBOBRAN, just as her daughter, Sandi Radoja, is today.  The story was lost to Sandi, so she was pleasantly surprised when Mirko and Jovo Blesich found this story when they were cleaning out their father’s home when he passed on and they sent it to her.
Anne Tumbas talked about the commercialization of modern man’s observance of the Birth of Christ being extremely disappointing…. with Christmas music blaring forth from every store, and over-displays of decorations that have no significance of the basic meaning for Christmas.
Then, once the 25th is over, besides the return to normalcy, unwanted gifts have been returned, holly and tinsel cleared away, cards thrown, and people “glad its over.”
But for those who were fortunate enough to have been baptized an Orthodox Christian, blessed silence prevails…. and one seeks the sanctuary of the Church during the Holy season.  
It is as if the world is left behind and one is again in the land of His birth.
She talks about fasting and confession, and how hymns sung to the Virgin Mary take on deeper meaning. How we value our traditions of the Badnjak and the greeting of “Hristos se Rodi” a greeting that comes down to us through the centuries.
“We need no artificial trappings of Santa Claus with too white a beard or glassy eyes and a mechanical recording of ‘Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas.’
What does this have to do with the Babe in the Manger?” she asks.
+Anne Tumbas talked about how we relive the happening in Bethlehem, when the shepherds heard the news as they tended their flock.
“We come from a long line of such persons, for our ancestors tended flocks in much the same way. There is no need for plastic figures illuminated by huge electrical spotlights and piped-in music. Only one ingredient is needed: Faith.”
Mir Bozji, Hristos se Rodi! Beautiful treasure, INDEED!

Badnji Vece (January 6, 2014) St. Elijah's Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, PA, USA

Dan August, Robert and Donna Milanovich, Cheryl Leidig, of St. Elijah parish.

Serbian Weddings and Customs

There is NOTHING like a Serbian wedding, whether we’re talking about the exciting SKUP (pre-wedding festivities with food and song and the bartering for the bride’s hand!), or the serenading of the bride by a tambura orchestra before she goes into the church. It is the grace and beauty of the Serbian Orthodox wedding ceremony-the solemn Sacrament of Marriage itself, and it’s also the heart-thumping kolo dancing outside of the church by the wedding party and well-wishers, while coins are being tossed to promise good luck/financial prosperity.

The Bojovich-Stipanovich wedding in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in  Lackawanna, NY was out of this world!

Little ones, Scampering About For the Lucky Coins!

What can bring about more smiles than watching our young children scampering to find as many silver pieces as their little fingers can hold, all the while the American and Serbian flags are being waved about so whole-heartedly?  Nothing! 

It’s such a beautiful scene!  Its a MUST to record with your eyes, ears and heart everything that you’re seeing and hearing.  That way, you’ll always be able to forever cherish and call forth those beautiful memories.  Ziveli, Svatovi!

Dave Zupkovich’s SVATOVAC <———-

(Thanks to Steve Kozabasich in Cleveland for this!)


This groom, JT, is a Duquesne University Tamburitzans graduate, as is his sister, Jana. But almost ALL of the wedding party had been Shadeland Campers and played their tamburas and danced under the direction of Nikola Jovich from NY, so here, EVERYBODY danced the kolos after church! 

Check out the flag bearer, Marko Wuslich, in the background.  He carried the American and Serbian flags, walking in front of the Bridal Party Limousine, all the way from the bride’s home to the church, a Herculean effort that will be talked about for years to come!

JT is an international banker, his new wife Aleks is an international lawyer, their Kum, Demetri, is an international Opera singer!  The wedding party also featured the bride’s brother, Dr. Bronko, who is a Plastic Surgeon, on the international speaking circuit for Harvard University! Others in the wedding party are just as successful in their chosen careers as world-class lawyers and engineers, etc.  That this couple chose to highlight their Serbian heritage and culture made EVERYONE in attendance so happy and proud!  Ziveli! Long live these newlyweds!

JT’s brother, Paul (a Ceramics Engineer) was excellent in his role as Dever, bartering long and hard before winning the bride’s hand for his brother, as Aleks’ brother, Bronko, made sure Paul’s offers were worthy of his beautiful, kind and talented sister!

Paul’s first offer of a Pittsburgh Steeler Terrible Towel coupled with a case of famous Pittsburgh Iron City beer was promptly rejected.  A velvet bag full of USA Gold dollars was offered next, but promptly refused as not being 100% gold.  A wad of money unrolled and handed over to Dr. Branko at last produced two lovely bridesmaids. But when Paul pulled out an envelope from inside his tuxedo and genuinely looked repentant, saying it was all the Stipanovich Family had left to offer, Bronko rifled through the envelope’s money inside, and finally relented, bringing forth the PRIZE to the gasps and delight of the whole neighborhood!  The Lira Orchestra broke into “OD-I-se……… for our Aleks and her Mom, Desanka, and EVERYONE was so happy! 

There is NOTHING like a Serbian wedding.  Nothing!

Lackawanna, NY – St. Stephen’s Serbian Orthodox Church was the scene of this wedding.  Aleks’ wedding planner told me the next day at the Country Club brunch that she cried when she heard the Choir sing all of the responses in church, and also the “Oce Nas” and “Mnogaja Ljeta” & “Ziveli” at the start of the reception afterwards.  “I’m used to a professional singer here or there, but nothing like that! I couldn’t help but have tears of joy in my eyes!”

The Choir Loft was full to capacity!  It was made up of original Lackawanna Choir members, guests from the St. Nicholas’ Choir in Monroeville, and any other singers on the wedding list.  It was sooo moving!  Officiating at this service were Protopresbyter Rastko Trbuhovich of St. Stephen’s of NY, and Protopresbyter Dragoljub Malich of Monroeville.  Double joy for all!  All the way around!

Double?  Make that QUADRUPLE!  Their wedding favors featured chocolate truffles from BELGRADE, LONDON, BUFFALO (Lackawanna) and PITTSBURGH!


NADA AND JOVO Potkonjak Wedding: Really UNIQUE, SERBIAN!

Jovo and Nada Pokonjak celebrated their 22nd Anniversary on October 25, 2014 and posted these wonderful photos on Facebook to share with all of us!

They got engaged on a plane on the way to AUstralia to visit  Jovo’s Tetka and cousin, and to be Kumovi for a wedding and Christening.  Jovo asked Nada to ge the camera out and she was surprised to find her engagement ring in the camera case!

About the wedding: 

Nada says, “It was 1992 and the war in the Krajina was in  full swing.  We two Serbs from LIKA thought it was the best way to honor our ancestors. We owe thanks to the Sumadija Folk Dance Ensemble for loaning us the narodne nosinje. Mira Babic made the narodne nosinje for us.”    

Jovo added, “The narodnje nosinje we wore were a gift from the Sumadija  Folklore Group.   I was their director at the time and this was their gift to us.  We were truly honored, blessed and overwhelmed by their generosity.  Somthing I’m sure we’ll never forget. We mixed the Sumadija costumes with our Licke costumes, because it was a way to show that no matter WHERE our ancestors are from, they are Serbian.  

We weren’t just Licani, we were Serbs from the area of Lika (Krajina).  We wanted to bring it full circle. Our childre are the second generation born here in the United States and that does not make them any less Serbian!”

The happy couple has two beautiful daughters, Andja and Djuka.  Congratulations, again! xoxox



Steve Kozobarich has a wonderful blog, all on old Serbian tamburitza music.  Be sure to check it out.

You can hear an old version of the wedding song,

SVATOVAC  <———  by “Lira” here.

Why not have the legendary “VINKA” sing the wedding song SVATOVAC for you?  Again, thanks to Steve Kozobarich!


 Halle Belosh’ and Matt Benusa’s “Skup” at the Marriott Hotel in Greentree, PA was exciting too!

The Sacrament of Marriage

Svadba u Ameriki
by Dusan Jovanovich & ORAO
The website above will give you wonderful information about the Orthodox marriage ceremony.  The site also shares how the service is divided into two different parts, the Betrothal, and the Crowning.
It will tell you about the Rings, and how they are blessed by the Priest in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; how the weaknesses of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other and enriched by the union.
The Candles play a very important role, symbolizing the perpetual light of Christ, and remind the couple that from now on they must shine in virtue and purity with good deeds. “Just as the candle consumes itself in order to give light and gladness to others, in like manner, the bride and groom should sacrifice themselves in order to help God create life and spread happiness.”  (V. Rev. Stevan Stepanov.)  The candles show the bridal couple’s willingness to follow in the footsteps of the Light of Christ, who will bless them in this mystery.
Guests seem to love this part, the Crowning!  It is the climax of the Wedding service. The crowns are signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns them during the Mystery. The groom and the bride are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom, the home – their domestic church, which they will rule with fear of God, wisdom, justice and integrity. The crowns used in the Orthodox wedding service refer to the crowns of martyrdom since every true marriage involves immeasurable self-sacrifice on both sides. 
Learn more about how the couple drinks from the Common Cup— from now on, the Bride and Groom share everything in life, joys as well as sorrows, and that they are to “bear one another’s burdens.” Their joys will be doubled and their sorrows halved because they will be shared. The wine recalls Christ’s first miracle at the wedding in Cana.
My heart always stops at this one…. the WALK! 
 Breathlessly, it seems, we watch the couple take their first steps together as man and wife, following the priest, following in the footsteps of Christ around the lesser altar table, which bears a candle, the Cross and Gospel, expressing the commitment to always walk together in faithful obedience to God.  The  three circles around the table signify Eternity, mapping out the eternal path of marriage.
 The Russian Orthodox website listed above says that this expresses the fact that the way of Christian living is a perfect orbit around the center of life, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. During this walk around the table a hymn its sung to the Holy Martyrs reminding the newly married couple of the sacrificial love they are to have for each other in marriage – a love that seeks not its own but is willing to sacrifice its all for the one loved.
Every wedding attendee seems to extol the solemnity but also the joy of the Blessing, when the Priest exhorts the bride and groom to “Be thou magnified, O bridegroom, as Abraham, and blessed as Isaac, and increased as Jacob, walking in peace and working in righteousness the commandments of God.” And blessing the bride he says, “And thou, O bride, be thou magnified as Sarah, and glad as Rebecca, and do thou increase like unto Rachael, rejoicing in thine own husband, fulfilling the conditions of the law; for so it is well pleasing unto God.”
 “Tying the Knot”
    Before leading the couple on their first walk together as husband and wife, following in the footsteps of Christ, the priest ties the right hands of the couple together while praying for their marriage, the act signifying their “Oneness” from now on.  Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremonies are FULL of the most magnificent and profound symbolism and meaning.  You KNOW you’re married after this beautiful ceremony uniting two as one.
If you are thinking of “tying the knot,” getting married in the Orthodox Church, there are many sites to help you on the Internet.  But your first steps should be to contact your priest (before looking for a hall date, etc.)
One of my favorite wedding memories was the wedding of my cousins’ daughter Jennifer to Sasha Trklja from Toronto, about 5 years ago. The “Skup” was a phenomenal event, with the whole Canadian contingent walking en masse down to the Bride’s home, with a Kumstvo boasting 300 years of continued friendships.  After all the toasts, the wedding party and guests drove off for Pittsburgh’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The American and Serbian flags were flying out the window in the car following the white limousine, and every driver behind seemed to be “beep-beep beeping” their horns for joy as the caravan wound their way through traffic, just adding to everyone’s excitement about the whole affair.
Even the bride got caught up in the vibrant atmosphere.
“Jennifer!” her mother admonished.  “JENNIFER!” (Our Jennifer was smiling and waving her head out the window, flashing the 3 fingered Serbian salute.)
“Jennifer!” her mother pleaded this time, trying to maintain some semblance of decorum.  “Get your head inside.  You’re the BRIDE, for Heaven’s Sake!”
“I know!” said Jennifer smiling and flashing her 3-fingered salute to all with even more action, then she breathlessly said, “and I’m LOVIN’ it!
(We ALL did!!!) 

Jennifer & Sasha Trklja

& Fr. Rajko Kosic have their hands tied, symbolizing their ONENESS, and the crowns signify they are King and Queen of their own household from now on.

Serbs LOVE being Serbian! 
There is NOTHING like a Serbian wedding! 
Wedding of Marko and Natalie Wuslich,
July 3, 2010
St. Elijah Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church, Aliquippa
Please click the lower right hand side of the photo above to enlarge and see the beautiful setting for this wedding.
George Milosh sang a solo of “Oce Nas” (Our Father)
which was incredible!
Kum J.T. Stipanovich and Stari Svat, Paul Stipanovich,
Light the Way for the Couple and serve as Witnesses
Congratulations, Newlyweds!
“Ziveli, Svatovi!”
Long live!
Click below to see a beautiful
2 minute video of the wedding:


Maca & Dane Topich
Dane asked Maca to marry him on her St. George Slava!
Dane explains for history:
 “I really don’t remember ever meeting her.  We just went to church together.  Eventually, things just came together.  I was helping with Shadeland and she was a counselor.  Our Kuma Vera Prpa lived in Hamilton.  We went to the Srpski Dan picnic in Niagara Falls.  I remember driving home from the Cleveland Basketball tournament with Maca.  We were friends through all of this but soon enough that changed.  Here’s some family trivia for you.  Our first official date was the day Peep (Millicent Mamula Bobik) died.  I cut the date short to go over to see Jules.

As for the engagement, it was Djurdjevdan and that is the Radovick Slava.  I think timing just worked out to have it that day.  I went to Bobby’s house first and all my guys met me there.  We then drove out to the Radovick’s where I had the apple and ring (and about 100 people waiting for us).  Proto Stepanov had an engagement ceremony.  It was right after Easter so everyone sang “Hristos Voskrese” to start the service.  it was a goose bump moment that Maca and I still talk about.  We spent the rest of the evening celebrating.  My friends played for our orchestra, and the rest is history as they say!”
Great story, great families that got together!  Yes!
22 years as of 2017!
Ziveli, Svatovi!

Sharing Matt and Stephanie Stagl's big day with you, via this fine photograph by the bride's loving,

Aunt Mel Bard.

The Sacrament of Marriage is conducted in the center of the Church AFTER the Betrothal at the Altar. 
(Where the Bride and Groom are given lighted candles to hold, a sign of faith in Christ as the light of the world.  The priest bleses the wedding rings and places them on the right hands of the bride and groom, expressing the betrothal.  This is an outward sign that the two partners pledge to join in the mariage of their own free will and consent.   The Kum/Kuma acts as the first witness, exchanging the rings and confirming the pledge in the name of the Holy Trinity.)
Here, in this photo above,
V. Rev. Fr. Milan Krstic read three long prayers invoking the blessings upon the couple and recalled examples of biblical marriages that were blessed by God and served as instruments of God’s plan of salvation for the world.  The third prayers asks God to  unite the couple, and as an outward sign, the right hands of the pair are tied together with a white cloth!
The crowns are sitting on the Altar Table, ready for use to have the ultimate expression of spiritual reality of tthe Sacrament.  The bride and the groom are “honored” and “glorified” as husband and wife, as king and queen of their own dominion—the family.  The crowns also reflect the reward awaiting them in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And finally….. Crowned as husband and wife Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA!

Ziveli, Svatovi!  Congratulations Halle & Matt



How about an OLD-TIME Serbian Wedding?

Here, the Kukich Family from Pittsburgh!

Thanks to Connie….for sharing!


How about this one at Danny & Stephanie Capuzzi’s wedding on October 23, 2010?  Happy campers in Detroit!!!


Dane Topich’s speaking about the APPLE engagement story reminded me of when Nick and Dana Bizic became engaged.

Nick Bizic, Aunt Mimi Brnilovich Karlo, Dana Hickey

An old advertising card for OXO, featuring the ancient custom of presenting the engagement ring in the apple!  Please note that this was from the Dalmatia region, and the Serbian SLAVA icon with the vigil lamp is on the wall.

Here’s the story I shared with Milan and Roz Opacich…. the event happened on the last Friday in October, 2011, as we had 42 American veterans come speak to our school that day, in preparation for the BIG Veteran’s Day program we had planned for Friday, Nov. 8, 2011.  If you click any of these photos on the lower right hand side, they can be enlarged, and you can read for yourself, exactly how the photo of Nick, Aunt Mimi Brnilovich Karlo, and Dana came to be!  (Just in case you’re wondering, ignore the top date on the copy below. This is only when I printed off another copy! :-))

Cousin Marti (Mamula-Trbovich-Cwiklik) Grimes wrote back: “Congratulations to All!  Your Mom is right…. it will charge your battery and you will run until empty many times over between now and the wedding.  It’s such a wonderful feeling when your child chooses a lifetime partner…. especially one that you know suits him/her well.