• English Translation

    Youth Club Backa Palanka

    Who we are

    Youth Club Backa Palanka (YC BP) is founded in 2006 and since than it has become a recognizable name in the field of youth work in the municipality of Backa Palanka (Serbia), in the region, as well.

    The first two years of work Youth Club Backa Palanka was part of PRONI youth clubs network (Project of Northern Ireland) and Forum Syd Balkans Programme.

    Today, Youth Club is independent, nongovernmental, non-profit organization, with the aim to realize activities for young people and improve the quality of youth work.

    In Youth Club are active several youth workers, play workers, outreach youth workers, street youth workers and children animators, pedagogue, psychologist, social worker, mediator, sociologist, journalist, special pedagogue and other co-operator.

    Youth Club realized numerous projects and programmes on local, national, regional and European level, in the field of local activism, mobility, intercultural dialogue, inclusive education, capacity building programme for marginalized groups, intergenerational dialogue etc.

    Very important are impacts and results from program of cross border cooperation with Republic Croatia and Republic Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Danube region as well.

    In April 2013 Youth Club has received national accreditation for the realizing programs and standards of youth work.

    In 2015 YC BP received a national NAPOR reward for the best praxis of inclusive programme for vulnerable groups.

    Contact: Partizanska 12, 21400 Backa Palanka, SERBIA

    [email protected]

    Our Christmas package

    How we celebrate Christmas

    Christmas in Serbia

    The Christmas celebration in Serbia blends Christian symbols and pagan traditions and involves a lot of logs, straw, sparks, clucking - and hearty food.

    While much of the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus on December 25, in Orthodox Serbia church bells peel across the country on January 7 to mark the beginning of the three-day festival. After the calendar was reformed in the 16 century, the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the Orthodox Churches of Jerusalem, Russia, Macedonia, Georgia and Ukraine, continued to calculate time according to Julian calendar. While people now calculate time generally using the Gregorian calendar, religious holidays are still celebrated according to Julian one, two weeks later than the Catholic Church.

    However, preparations for Christmas in Serbia start long before January 7. Many Orthodox Christians begin fasting 40 days before Christmas. Over that period, Serbs observing the fast eat no meat, dairy products or eggs. It is not uncommon for restaurants and bakeries to offer special menus with dishes that do not include any of these forbidden ingredients.

    Christmas in Serbia is a family holiday, and the three Sundays prior to Christmas are dedicated to celebrating members of the family. The third Sunday before the Christmas is dedicated to children, the second to mothers and the first to fathers. This year, children, mothers and fathers will be honoured on December 22, December 29 and January 5 respectively. On these days, family members receive gifts, but the presents they give come in the form of a ransom. On the morning of detinjci, adults tie their and their neighbours’ children either to one another or to a chair and the children have to give the adults a present in order to secure their release. On the mornings of materice and oci, the children tie up their mothers or fathers in the same manner and only release them after getting their gifts. While this tradition is mainly followed by families with small children, for many Serbs, the real Christmas celebration starts on Christmas Eve, January 6. On this day, even those who are not very religious will fast, avoiding meat, diary products and eggs.


    It all starts with an oak

    The oak tree is a crucial ingredient to a proper Serbian Christmas and on the morning of Christmas Eve, all Serbs go searching for a badnjak, an oak tree branch with golden leaves. In the cities, these branches are sold on streets or markets, but in the countryside people still spend mornings in the woods and cut branches on their own. These oak branches are placed in front of the threshold until that evening. Before the family dinner on Christmas Eve, the men bring badnjak straw and pecenica, a traditional pork dish served on Christmas day into the house.

    In order to make a family home resemble the stable where Jesus was born, the men scatter the straw across the floor, while the mothers and children follow them, making clucking sounds. The clucking in the Serbian tradition symbolises Christ’s wish to gather all people into one loving community, just as a hen gathers her chicks underneath her wings to keep them warm. After the straw is scattered around the house, the family burns a part of the badnjak in the house if they have a wooden stove or fireplace, or, if need be, in the courtyard of the apartment block or back garden.

    The fire from the badnjak symbolises the fire that the three shepherds brought to warm the stable where Jesus was born.

    In Serbian Orthodox tradition, the fire at the same time warms the family with love, sincerity and harmony, while light from the fire dispels the darkness of ignorance and superstition. The roots of the Serbian cult of the oak long predate the arrival of Christianity. According to some, before they adopted the Christian faith, the Serbs worshipped a god called Badnja, and, converting to Christianity, burned effigies of their old god.

    However, as they could not easily forget their beloved deity, they repeat the same act of farewell every year.

    After the fire is lit, the family gathers around dinner table. Christmas Eve dinner is substantial, but restrictions on what may be consumed still apply, so it is usually based around fish, beans, potatoes and dried or fresh fruit.

    In the Serbian tradition, family members leave home after dinner only to go to church. In front of churches across the country, the badnjak is burned in a huge fire at midnight. Everyone bring an oak branch with them and throws it in the fire, making as many sparks fly as possible, as the sparks are believed to be a sign of a good luck in the year to come.


    Welcoming lucky guest

     Church bells at dawn mark the advent of Christmas Day. While some attend Church services, most Serbs stay at home, impatiently waiting for the first visitor, the polozajnik. Instead of greeting each other with the usual “hello” or “good day”, Serbs use the traditional festive greeting of “Christ is born, happy Christmas” for all three days of Christmas. The appropriate response is “Truly, he is born.” The polozajnik must enter the house with the right leg first as this will bring the family good luck in the year to come.

    The tradition of the polozajnik symbolises the three wise men from the East who came to worship the baby Jesus, and many people arrange for someone they cherish to be the first across their doorstep. On entering the home, the polozajnik lights up the rest of the badnjak and makes sparks fly. The more sparks from the fire, the richer, healthier and happier the family will be. The polozajnik is then served with breakfast and when he – traditionally it should be a male – rises to leave, the family bestows presents on him in order to show how special he is to them.


    Finding a lucky coin

    The next step in the celebration is the Christmas Day lunch, which is the highlight of the day. Before the meal begins, the family breaks a special loaf of bread, the cesnica, a homemade loaf baked with a coin inside. Although many families now order the loaf from the nearby bakery, the baker still makes it with an obligatory coin. Before the meal starts, the family breaks the bread into pieces and each person start searching for a coin in his or her slice. Good luck for the coming year is granted to whoever finds the coin.

    The hunt for the coin is followed by a prayer; only then can lunch can start. The meal is rich. Appetizers made of prsuta (smoked ham), cheese and pies, are followed by the main course of pecenica (roasted pork), sarma (cabbage stuffed with meat and rice) and several kinds of cake. Preparing pecenica is also rooted in pre-Christian rituals. Traditionally, the pig should be slaughtered on the morning of Christmas Eve and roasted for the whole day over an open fire. In these modern times, the pork is more commonly prepared in an oven when the host has time. There are two beliefs about what the family should do after the lunch. Some believe that every task a person begins on Christmas Day will be blessed, so they start the job that they intend to occupy them throughout the year.

    On the other hand, there is also a belief that whatever a person does on Christmas, he or she will continue doing it throughout the year, so most Serbs believe it is best to spend the day doing the things they like most with people they love best.

    The Christmas celebration does not end on January 7, as it is a three-day festival. On the second day, families visit their neighbours or relatives, while on the third day the straw is taken out of the house, and hung in bundles from fruit trees, to ensure a fertile year.

    Another bundle is stored in a dry place and burnt on St George’s Day, to guard the crops from hail. A third is left by the nearest stream, and expedites the elimination of vermin present in the house.


    Chasing away demons

    Some parts of Serbia still cherish old Christmas traditions that have vanished from other parts of the country.

    In the Pcinja and Jablanica districts people still keep alive a tradition called “koleda”, which starts five days before Christmas and ends on Epiphany. Young men from the villages don specially prepared masks and costumes and go from home to home, singing Christmas songs and chasing away demons.

    Walking down the village they shout and make a noise. After entering the house, they shout, dance, jump around and knock on the floor and walls with sticks to drive away the demons. After the demons are chased off, they bless the home and receive a loaf of bread in thanks from the family.

    “Koleda” is considered a pagan tradition. An Orthodox Christian equivalent is “vertep”, which is similar and is practiced in Vojvodina on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A group of costumed boys goes from house to house carrying a vertep, or litter, constructed as a wooden model of a house or a church, with two dolls inside – one representing Mary, mother of Jesus, and the other of baby Jesus. In front of each house they sing Christmas songs, and recite poems that praise the birth of Christ.



    Recipes Christmas cookies



    The dough:
    250 gr margarine
    300 gr flour
    5 spoons of cold water
    1 spoon of apple cider vinegar

    According to your taste, choose from which you will make biscuits (walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds, homemade jam). Of all the ingredients knead the dough and leave for half an hour in the fridge (if you want). For the filling mix the minced nuts/peanuts /almonds with homemade jam to taste. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2 mm and cut into squares 5 x 5 cm and put every bit of stuffing and shape the rolls by opposite corners fold one over the other, and gently squeeze. Baking sheet covered with parchment paper and arrange the rolls. Bake them in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes. Baked rolls to chill and roll in powdered sugar mixed with vanilla sugar.


  • Original Language

    Youth Club Backa Palanka

    Who we are

    Our Christmas package


    How we celebrate Christmas

    Recipes Christmas cookies




    250 gr margarina

    300 gr brašna

    5 kašika hladne vode

    1 kašika jabukovog sirćeta



    Po vašem ukusu izaberite od čega ćete praviti keksiće (od mlevenih orasa, lešnika ili badema, domaći pekmez). Od svih sastojaka zamesiti testo i ostaviti pola sata u frižider (može, ali i ne mora). Za nadev pomešati mlevene orase/lešnike/bademe sa domaćim pekmezom po želji. Testo razvaljati na debljinu 2 mm i rezati u kvadratiće 5x5 cm i u svaki staviti malo nadeva i oblikovati kiflice tako što suprotne ćoškove kvadratića preklopite jedan preko drugog i blago ih stisnete. Lim za pečenje obložiti papirom za pečenje i složiti kiflice. Peći ih u prethodno zagrejanoj rerni na 180° C oko 20 minuta dok kiflice blago ne porumene. Pečene kiflice malo ohladiti i uvaljati u šećer u prahu pomiješan s vanilin-šećerom.


  • Additional Translations

    Who we are

    Our Christmas package

    How we celebrate Christmas

    Recipes Christmas cookies