You know it’s Christmas time in Europe when the city squares start smelling of sweets and mulled wine, and the colorful light decorations transform them into buzzing gathering places. The winter vibe takes over, and people get inexplicably excited all of a sudden - making December a time of the year when you rejoice with family, take a look back on a long year, and show gratitude for the little things in life. It’s no different in Belgrade, whose winter transformation promises for an aspiring Christmas time.
Distinctively, the city of Belgrade decided to celebrate one of the main principles of Christmas and Christianity during the holidays season - the generosity and kindness. The main Republic Square is transformed into “Open Heart Square”, that supports various charitable causes and encourages people to take part in it, in a fun and non-intrusive way. Every year, the visitors can help with supplying the teaching aids for the students with disabilities or bringing the old toys and clothes to a specially designated wooden cabin in the center, for the children of orphanages nationwide.
The charity cause accompanies the regular wooden huts and cabins, which animate the visitors with their bright lights, Christmas music, and delicious wintery treats. Visitors can sip mulled wine or warm rakia, or feast on the street food, kurtos cake, or cookies and sweets decorated in a holiday manner.
Additionally, kids undoubtedly have the best time at Open Heart Square, as the central stage is dedicated to various children’s plays and musical programmes.
Orthodox Christmas in Serbia comes a bit later, assuring to have a prolonged holiday experience! Namely, the Serbian Orthodox Calendar is aligned to the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian, like in the most Christan countries, meaning that there is a 13-day delay in the holiday. So, Christmas comes on the 7th of January. This luckily doesn’t go both ways, so Serbs don’t start the holiday season later. On the contrary, all the city holiday amenities and festivities start around 28th of November, and last until after the 7th of January, making up for a prolonged Christmas time in Serbia!
Aside from the Christmas market that promotes generosity, Belgrade has another essential holiday retreat. Belgrade’s annual New Year’s Fair is held during the second half of December and features food exhibitions, a beer festival, an amusement park, ice skating rink, and various musical events and performances, to suit everyone's taste.
Another interesting event, especially suited for children and Christmas enthusiasts, who just feel like kids again with the first tones of the Christmas songs, is an annual Santa Claus Race. The race takes place at the end of December and gathers more than 3000 people dressed up as Santa, who then race through the indicated path through the city. The main ideas behind the race are exemplary of Christmas - the charitable causes and fun.
The festive nation like Serbia, which celebrates two New Years and a prolonged winter holiday season, with the amusing and benevolent events, surely guarantees for an aspiring Christmas time in Belgrade.
Cover photo © Credits to encrier
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