Posts Tagged ‘christian countries’

6th against 7th Nativity / Budni Dan / Божић, ( Christmas ) in Serbian Orthodox Church Nijmegen

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Reading Time: 6minutes

Saint Savva Nijmegen Serbian Orthodox Church Bojic Badni dan Rojdestvo Hristovo Nativity

I'm in Holland and here the closest place to Arnhem where Orthodox Holy Liturgy is served is in Nijmegen. I go every Sunday on Church taking the train from Arnhem to Nijmegen – the whole trip takes 15 to 20 minutes .One Sunday, I go to Russian Orthodox Church, and one Sunday to Serbian Orthodox Church. As a rule of thumb for us Orthodox, if we attend Orthodox Church different from your nation wide (autocephalous) Orthodox Church, the person who takes part in prayer and Eucharist communion with the respective Church should celebrate the Church feasts according to the respective Orthodox Church calendar (in my case Russian and Serbian Orthodox Church) calendar. Both Russian and Serbian Church are following the so called Old Church Calendar, where in my national Church the Bulgarian Orthodox Church just like Greeks, we follow the "New  feasts Church Calendar". The difference between the two calendars is 13 days in some of the feasts, meaning Orthodox Churches which still observe the Old Church Calendar have some of the feasts like Nativity 13 days later.

Two years ago, I've celebrated Christmas with the Russian Orthodox Church on the 3rd day of Nativity (9th of January). This year by God's great mercy I had the chance to celebrate Рождество Христово with the Serbs.

Thus  this, year I celebrate Nativity (Рождество Христово – as we say in Bulgarian following the Old Church Calendar today on 6-th against 7-th January Eve.

In Nijmegen, there will be no midnight (полунощница) Holy Liturgy, but instead on Sunday Morning, there was a Holy Liturgy in which we celebrated the feast of Nativity of the Lord Lord Jesus Christ and at the end of Church service we greeted each other with the joyful salute Christ is born – Truly he is Born!

It was a joyful service leaded by the hieromonk priest father Dushan, who is in charge of Nijmegen's, Amsterdam and Breda Westen Europe Serbian eparchy .

The Serbian Church here in Holland are blessed to have for veneration holy relics of saints:

  • st. Zosima (Tumane)
  • saint Nektarios of Aegina
  • venerable Dena (ikoki)
  • saint Tsar Urosh
  • saint Paraskeva (the Bulgarian / of the Balkans)
  • saint Nikolaj Srbskij (Velimirovich)

Serbs are very good people and everytime I go to Serbian Church, I'm warmly accepted as true brother in Christ, this time it was no different.

It was a triple  feast for me as I both celebrated the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, received the Holy Sacraments and venerated the Holy relics of this Great Saints.

In Serbian Church have, the same pious tradition like in our Bulgarian Orthodox to great each other with the Nativity (Rojdenski) Church Greeting – Христос се Роди – Воистину се Роди / Christ is born – Truly he is Born!

In Serbian Christmas is called Bozec / Badni Dan (Yule-log tree day), very similar to the Bulgarian Бъдна Вечер / Badna Vecher  (Yule-log tree night).

As I'm a bit keen on learning Serbian, I've found a video in youtube re-telling the story around the miracles surrounding the birth of the King of Kings the Lord Jesus Christ:

Верски календар – Божић / Religious calendar – Christmas- The story of Christ birth as told in Serbian Language

Here is the Serbian Church Troparion for the day Rojdestvo tvoe:


 

Рождество Твое,Христе Боже наш…(хор Матфея) – Српски / Rojdestvo Tvoem Srpski

In Serbia Christmas is known as Bozic, often written in latin as Serbs tend to write nowadays mainly in Latin, Cyrillic however is still in wide use mainly in Serbian Church. Mentioning cyrillic I should say, Serbian is in maybe 60 / 70% similar or same in words as Bulgarian language as we are brother nations, and plus the Holy Liturgy service is in Church Slavonic so I understood about 80 to 90% of all the service with no problem. Also speaking with Serbians is very easy, if I speak a simplified version of Bulgarian and they speak simple Serbian – our languages are almost identical. A Situation with Serbian and Bulgarian is very much like here Holland with German language.

There were few things in the Church, which was new for me. A native Serbian Church tradition is they bring haystacks in the Church as a remembrance for Christ being born among the hay in the manger.

seno serbian church hay haystack, bundle of hay picture

Also one other local tradition which is not in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and not in Russian Orthodox Church is bringing the yule-log tree trunk in the Church.
In Bulgaria we also put Christmas, new year tree but not the cut trunk of it.

yule log tree budnik bydnik serbian church local tradition

It was very joyful, the whole Church was full of people from ex-Yugoslavia – Serbia, Bosnia & Hertzegovina and Macedonia. The biggest joy was the plenty of children and new-borns from age around 1 year to age 7 – 10 years. There were also plenty of teenagers and people in their 20 – 30s, something I've rarely seen in Bulgaria. The fact that the Church service was all attended by Emigrants and the fact serbians help each other so much while living abroad is something that makes me rejoice, the only thing I don't understand and (pray it change) is why we Bulgarians are united like this?

At the end of the Church service, there was something I liked very much too. The little kids in the Church were invited to come to the piles of hay on the ground sitting behind the icons, and told there are candies hidden in the hay 🙂 The kids started seeking through the straws finding chocolates in different forms joying. The idea of this entertainment "game" was great, as it makes children feel at home in the Church and by doing so Serbs teach their children to love the Holy Church and by this are little by little raising the next generation of devoted Serbian Orthodox Christians. I never saw in Bulgarian Orthodox Church, any activity in our Church like this, so I think maybe if our Church organizes something like this on Christmas it will be very good for both Bulgarian Orthodox parents and kids.

To make the Church joy complete, at the end of the Church service, all the layman were invited for a cup of coffee, tea and quick fasting meal. 6-th against 7-th of January is the last day of the Nativity fasting in the Church and since the fasting is over early on 7-th morning after the night vigil and morning holy liturgy all food in the little  kitchen of the Byzantine Building ( Chapel ) was fasting

People from Church has prepared a very taste food, many of which in type was very similar to the food we eat in Bulgaria during fasting and Nativity.

Other thing impressed me in Church, was the attitude of the woman, most of them were very concerned about man, and they leave nothing in the kitchen to be done by man, they served food etc. Somehow it seemed to me that Serbian ladies acted like true ladies, taking care for all the kitchen work, serving doing their best to make the man feel comfortable, something that is still evident in less developed economy nations like India, Pakistan etc. This kind of woman attitude is very hard to be seen nowadays in almost all around the world, including Bulgaria, so salutes for the good Serb woman 🙂

Just like us Bulgarians, Serbs also have Rakia as a traditional alcoholic beverage. This time they had a Serbian tea (as they call it) a mixture of hot tea and good quality rakia 🙂 – I rarely drink alcohol these days but this "Serbian tea" I liked very much. Among the food, there was the traditional wrapped rice in cabbage leaves, peppers filled with rise, own baked loaf (pitka), some very delicious meal combining something like boiled potatoes with mushrooms and some vegetables inside looking a bit like the Bulgarian Banica.

It is like a Church tradition, here in the West Orthodox Churches, to eat together after the end of Holy Liturgy. In the Holy Trinity Church in Dobrich, sometimes we do this as well but  not every time like here in West. Eating together with the brothers and sisters from the Church makes the Church experience complete and is a symbolic continuation of communion after the true communion receiving the Holy Blood and Holy Flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Eucharist.
 

The Legend of the Christmas Tree and Why do we put Christmas trees at home in Christmas time? :)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Reading Time: 6minutes

Why we put Pine tree / Fir in Christmas origins of Christmas tree / Legends for the Christmas Tree
 

Christmas has just passed away. As a Christian I was curious what is the reason in so many Christian countries, we decorate Pine trees and I did a quick research on the topic. In this small article, I'll present my findings.

Observing the Christmas Pine Tree tradition has been quite ancient and probably according to many sources dates back to the XIIth century.
The first written records of a Christmas tree are of an anonymous Frenchman who visited Strasbourg, Germany in 1601. His description of the decoratd pine tree says like "wafers and golden sugar-twists (Barley sugar), roses cut out of many-colored paper, apples, gold foil and sweets."

Later in the 1800s, the local German Christmas pine tree tradition was spread across America by German emmigrants.
In UK the Pine tree decorating tradition appeard in 1841, where a royalty (Prince Albert) decorated his castle (Winston Castle).

A little later after the Queen Victoria adopted the pine tree, United Kingdom citizens started to decorate pine trees for themselves, folliwng the highly regarded Queen.
Usually the pine tree has historically been decorated with gifts as well as an Bright star is put atop.

One of the Christian interpretations for the Christmas tree is that it represents the same Cross (tree) on which Christ was crucifixed. Then after Christ's resurrection because of (or through that) tree, the humanity received the Lord big spiritual blessings. These blessings are represented by the gifts decorated on the Fir tree. The pine tree itself is in Christianity a reference for the symbol of Salvation that we received came from the Holy Cross, where our saviour was crucified.

The Fir is decorated with lights to represent the joy and the lights of Christmas (that burns in our hearts), the star atop the tree is a reminder of the Star that rised in the East during the night of Christ's birth as we read in the gospels.

Roman Catholic Church Christmas Pine Trees
Decorating Pine trees is commonly observed mostly in Roman Catholic Church and often followed by some protestant denominations and less used in Orthodox Church (though this is changing nowdays).

In Eastern Europe, the Christmas tree appeared quite Legends about the Christmas Fir Treelate and the whole concept was unknown in the Orthodox Christian countries, just until the end of the 19th century.

With the recent severe globalization the pine tree was silenty adopted in almost all parts of the world, including even communist countries and even sometimes in muslim ones.
Enormous Fir Tree in Tarnovo city hill Bulgaria

Unfortunately, the relation between the Fir tree and our Christian faith is little known today and with the years to come it will be less and less associated with Christianity.

Here are few interesting legends which I found explaining, some of the possible roots of the Christmas tree decoration:

Legends about the Christmas Fir Tree

1. Legend of the Pine Tree Saving the Holy Family

When the Holy family was pursued by Herod's soldiers, many plants offered to provide them with shelter.
One such plant was the Pine tree. With Mary too weary to travel any longer, the family stopped at the edge of a forest to rest.
A gnarled old Pine which had grown hollow with the years invited them to rest within its trunk.
Then, it closed its branches down upon them, keeping the family safe until the soldiers had passed.
Upon leaving, the Christ Child blessed the Pine and the imprint of his tiny hand was left forever in the tree's fruit… the Pine cone.
If a cone is cut lengthwise, the hand may still be seen.

2. Pine tree and Easter Legend
 

Pine tree on cones on Easter forms Cross shape

There is a legend that pine trees "know" when it's Easter.
The pine trees start their new growth in the weeks before Easter.
If you look at the tops of the pine trees two weeks before Easter you'll see the yellow shoots.
As the days get closer to Easter Sunday, the tallest shoot will branch off and form a cross.
By the time Easter Sunday comes around, you will see that most of the pine trees will have small yellow crosses on all of the tallest shoots.
This really happens we live where there are lots of pines,
and each year this actually happens, it is amazing to watch,
and the process of the new growth appears as crosses on the ends
of each branch.

I've not personally observed that, but according to people who live in pine tree forest areas this is a fact.

3. Legend about M. Luther and the Pine tree

Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant religion, was taking a stroll through the woods late one night.
The sky was clear and many stars were shining through the branches of the trees,
giving the impression of twinkling lights.
Luther was so captivated and inspired by the beautiful brilliance of the sight
that he cut down a small evergreen and brought it home.
He recreated the stars by placing candles upon the tree's branches to imitate
their radiance and presented it to his children.

This story explains why, the pine tree become so wide spread initially in the "western world", as it gives some connection between the Pine tree and Protestant Christianity.

4. The Children Legend of the Fir Tree (Kids Story)

On the night of the Christ Child's birth, all living creatures, both flora and fauna, traveled to Bethlehem bearing gifts.
The Olive tree, for example, brought its fruit and the Palm tree its dates.
But the little Fir tree had no gift and was so tired that it was unable to resist when the larger trees pushed it into the background and hid it from view.
But then, a nearby Angel took pity and commanded a cluster of stars to descend and rest upon its delicate boughs.
When the Baby Jesus beheld this lovely lighted tree, he smiled and blessed it,
declaring henceforth that Fir trees should always be filled with lights at
Christmastime to please little children.
When Christianity first came to Northern Europe, three personages representing
virtues were dispatched from Heaven to place lights on the original Christmas tree.
These personages were Faith, Hope and Charity.
Their search was long, since they were required to find a tree as high as hope, as great as love and as sweet as charity.
In addition, the tree had to bear the sign of the cross on every bough.
Their search finally ended in the forests of the North where they found the Fir.
Lit by the radiance of the stars, it became the first Christmas tree.
The triangular design of the Fir has also been usedto describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
Eventually, converts began to revere the Fir as God's Tree…as they had once revered the Oak.
By the Twelfth Century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime
in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.

5. The Paradise Tree Legend

A very old and delightful European custom centers around decorating a Fir tree with apples and small white wafers which represents the Holy Eucharist.
These wafers were later replaced by small pieces of pastry cut into the shapes of stars, angels, hearts, flowers and bells.
Eventually additional pastries were introduced bearing the shapes of men, birds, roosters and other animals.

During the middle Ages, around the Eleventh century, religious theater was born.
One of the most popular plays …
The German mystery play concerned Adam and Eve and their fall and expulsion from the Garden of Eden, represented by a Fir tree hung with apples.
This tree was symbolic of both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Discernment of Good and Evil, which stood in the center of Paradise.
The play ended with the prophecy of a coming Saviour. For this reason, it was often enacted during Advent.

The one piece of scenery, the "Paradeisbaum" or "Paradise Tree" become a popular object and was often set up in churches.
Eventually it also found its way in private homes and became symbol of the Saviour.
Since the tree was representative not only to Paradise and the fall of man, but also the premise of salvation.
It was hung not merely with apples, but with bread of wafers (Holy Eucharist) and often sweet to represent the sweetness of redemption.
In some areas of Bavaria, fir branches and little trees decorated with lights, apples and tinsel are still called "Paradeis".

According to some other Christian legends, it was a Fir tree that grew as the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
When Eve plucked its fruit, the foliage and flowers shrank to nothing but needles.
Only on the night of Nativity would the Fir tree bloom again a moment marked perhaps by the Christmas tree we Christians use.

Of course these are just legends and as with every legend there is plenty of romantism included.
Nevertheless I consider most legends similar to proverbs contain deep truth and contain truthful facts. Moreover knowing the legends of our forefathers connect us to who and what we are and from antropological point of view is precious knowledge, we should try to sustain and spread to our children.
 

The no-ego deadly body and soul (anti-christian) philosophy a trend in modern Business – think always positive be always positive

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Reading Time: 6minutesModern day Business training Sect picture

These days it’s ultra modern in Business and Business Communities, that the way business is made or business possibilities are discussed are directly influenced by altered understanding of Buddhistic world views.

Today less and less people realize that the modern day Western and Eastern Christian countries are rapidly loosing their Christian mark.
It was Christianity and Christian philosophy, thanks to which Christian countries has advanced to the material goodness level, architectural greatness, science improvements and civilization achievements that we the Europeans and other Western societies like Americans enjoy today.

As time ticks on the world is constantly becoming more and more Anti-Christian. From the times when Christianity was officially wide-spread and accepted and being a Christian was a sign for personal qualities and goodness, it’s now considered to be almost a crime or being insane if you have faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and a Saviour of mankind.

Business ethics practices from the past, which were often based on Christian ethics has also seriously changed these days.

It was due to Christianity and the Christian civillization due to which we had a dozens of genuine musician like: J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Verdi, Brahms, Tschaikovsky etc. the list of great people and musicians goes innumerous here.

The Roman Catholic and Easter Orthodox Christians thanks to which works, science has advanced is also innumerous, just to name a few for instance:

Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Max Planck, Marie Curie, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Johannes Kepler

again this is just a small chunk of all the great Christian people who by their talents has revolutionized the world for good.

However nowdays education is changed seriously and as many people should have noticed Christianity and historic relation between science and Christianity is trying to be covered.
Moreover the historic importance of Christian faith and it’s surrounding philosophy is forgotten, not to mention that officially the history of the world until the 18 century is mostly, a history of Christianity and it’s influence on society.

In these days of Christian apostacy, many of the business people in their look up for ways to become superior and rule over the masses has turned into various long forgotten sects and heresies which were publicly announced by ancient Christian Church as body and soul destroying dangerous teachings.

It’s trendy today that the confucionism or hindu influenced beliefs about the world and the way stuff works, are preached and used in businesses and business organizations.
Dalai Lama Enemy of Christianity

It’s classics nowdays that people run a business, after building a group of people, over which hierarchical manipulation based leadership is exercised.

Most oftenly people who enter into a new business field, try build a groups of people who are introduced without having conscious idea to veiled alterated buddhistic philosophy to match certain people’s idea or beliefs about the world.

These groups usually consist of people ranging from hundereds to thousands. Usually each of these business groups created, has a leader who is both leader in terms of (being the group boss / executive) and also a spiritual leader.

Interaction between the group members are purely based on manipulation. People are teached they have some special sensitivity for the surrounding environment which they can develop.
They’re teached they must always be positive, the group leaders (teachers) does try to suggest to the group what the group members understanding of positive should be.

In those business groups, people are taught by the leaders to be positive, while the leaders themselves are not positive (one cannot be positive without God!). People are constantly told “be positive”, “be positive”, while the people who teach them this are not positive at all and evil often cruel!
In other words group members are being re-taught the basics of how they perceive themselves and how they should perceive the world around them in a light that fits well with the business organization they’re membering in.
Consequently people are taught to loose their ego.
Loose Ego surrealism picture

This is one of the most essential parts of this modern day business false teachings. In reality loosing the ego is loosing one’s standing ground and through that the person in the group becomes easily manipulated by other group members.

When people loose their ego basicly they loose their protection against being easily manipulated, they loose their idea about what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong and who in reality they’re.

I believe also the no-ego philosophy has also a straight relation with the modern day society problem of NO IDENTITY issue , I have previously blogged about.

Being exposed to this “business” approaches in that poor state one start easily accepting suggestions from the group leaders or other group members and could end up in a state where he is totally manipulated (a spiritual slave of the group leader GURU).

After time passes and a person is involved in so many meetings, the group members gets so much bounded together that they have to constantly meet each other and discuss things, (often senseless things), nevertheless the pointlessness of the many discussions this meetings starts giving them the feeling of great importance or in other words reveals them the ultimate life meaning.

Consequently, when the new business group entity is tight enough, the group is instructed by the leaders about what kind of business moves will be best for each of the group individuals and the overall business the group belongs to.
At this state each of the members should obey wholeheartedly, if somebody tries to question the leadership decisions, the leader does incite the whole group members against the disobeying member and usually the members gets destroyed.

These business group building philophy is also influenced by antrophology and observence of animal behaviour’s let’s say coyottes or wolves.

In animal world usually each pack of wolves had their leader and the pack only attacks if the leader hits and if the whole group is together.
Same kind of thing comes to business built entities based on this loose your ego / no-ego philosophies.
modern business group building - a spiritual babylon

A lot of pseudo beliefs about para-psychology and experimental western psychology is also involved and preached to the group members.
Loosing the ego philosophy in Business is directly influenced by buddhistic idea about Nirvana and spilling the self in the ultimate worldly reality (e.g. becoming one with the whole nature).
This kind of belief is seriously anti-christian and against the spiritual goal in christianity which is not the emptiness like in buddhism and the other eastern religions, but the goal is fullness in God.

We the Christians are striving to fill ourselves with God’s Spirit – The Holy Spirit, whether buddhists are trying to empty themselves by everything that’s binding them to reality (obviously they also try to empty themselves by God who has initially created man as his vessel).

Also in business, I’ve noticed in my experience that it’s common people who are taught business in universities or are introduced to business are taught philosophies which are very typical for western buddhist teachings.
Just like in buddhism people are taught there is no absolute good or evil and there is no good and bad and everything one does is good, if he sees it as good (we’re the one who define our lifes and realities)!!

Think for a while and see for yourself how insane this kind of philosophy is, let’s say I kill a man who I hate, that’s fine according to this philo because I believe this man’s existence was not good in my view and his unexistence will make the world a better place, since I believe it’s that way then it’s that way DOT!!!As a Christian I must confess this is ULTIMATE INSANITY, AN ULTIMATE LIE obviously inspired by the evil which is an enemy to us the Christians as the Holy Bible teaches.

This kind of “no good and bad” philosophy is a hidden assault against our Christian roots society, faith and civillization. In Christianity we’re clearly taught there is ultimate good an ultimate evil and there is no in between!
We are also taught one can become part of the ultimate good or ultimate evil by his daily choice, e.g. (get closer to God and his Holy Angels or distance himself from God and come near the devil and his fallen angels).

Mixing spirituality and business concepts has become a sad reality of our age, I’ve seen many books being sold which were claiming to teach, “how to do business based on Zen Buddhism and other eastern religions and philosophies.

What’s even worse is that people who are involved into this kind of “innovative” taught business approaches guarantee themselves to get exposed to the ultimate evil spirituality (devilish spiritual influence), as they openly reject God’s dominion over one’s self and the world around them.

The good news is that they’re many Christian Business communities as I’ve checked online, there are many people yet who do their best to do business with other Christians or people who still keep the Christian faith and morale.