Česnica

   

  
            Česnica (derived from the noun čest, meaning “share”) is the ceremonial, round loaf of bread that is an indispensable part od Christmas dinner in Serbian tradition. The preparation of this bread may be accompaned by various rules and rituals. A coin is put into the dough during the kneading, other objects may also be inserted. At the beginning of Christmas lunch, the česnica is rotated three times counterclockwise, before being broken among the family members. The person who find the coin in his piece of the bread will supposedly be exceptionally lucky in the coming year. The česnica was used in folk magic for divining or influencing the amount of crops.
         Česnica is usually made with wheat flour and baked on Christmas Eve or early Christmas mornings by the head of household or the woman of the house. The water for the dough is in some areas collected on Christmas Day before sunrise from a spring or a well, into which a handful od grain is thrown. The preparation of the bread may be accompanied by various rules: the flour is taken only from a full sack, the water for the dough is collected from three springs, the person who will prepare the česnica must bathe before that…

         In some regions, little figures carved from cornel wood representing chickens, oxen, cows, swine, bees are also put in the dough. In Semberija, families insert a piece of the first splinter produced in felling the badnjak. Before baking, the upper surface of the loaf may be inscribed with various symbols, such as a Christogram, or stars, circles. In Vojvodina, česnica is not a kind of bread, but a pastry made of layers of filo dough filled with chopped nuts, similar to baklava, but dry, without a syrup. 

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