Lorain St. George Serbian Orthodox Church continued a 90-year tradition with a Christmas Eve service.
The blessing of the tree, and celebrating with Serbia’s traditional Christmas Eve beverage vruca rakija (hot brandy) were all part of this congregation’s celebrations.
Parish Priest Hieromonk Nektarjie (Tesanovic) encouraged his parishioners to continue to help and support each other in the new decade.
“I ask you all to pray for all the Serbian people who suffer in Montenegro. And now in this year 2020 it is not only a new year, it is a new decade. And pray to be together… This parish is not small; it’s very big and we need to support each other, to help each other.”
The Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas under the Gregorian calendar with the celebration lasting three days.
The traditions are strong with preparing roasted pork on the fire and blessing the oak tree in symbolizing Christ’s grace as he was crucified.
During Christmas the Serbian Orthodox Church adherents fast and do not eat animal products.
Tesanovic said the church has a small, but dedicated, congregation who continues to celebrate and participate in the community.
Vera Stevovich, 88, is the daughter of St. George’s former priest and said celebrating in Lorain continues to be special.
“The people came at the beginning of the century, they built the church and they've kept the tradition going,” Stevovich said.