Christmas customs vary greatly from Berlin, to London to Bitola. And whether you celebrate on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or even on the Epiphany - January 6th/7th, music always plays a significant role.
Macedonian Silvera Padori lives in Berlin and has a German husband. Her daughter has moved with her family to London. So it's clear that when the Padoris celebrate Christmas, it means doing so on Christmas Eve, like Germans do, then on Christmas Day, like the British do, and then on the Epiphany, January 6th, like Macedonian-Orthodox Christians do.
"All good things come in threes!" Silvera quips. But Christmas in her home town of Bitola in southern Macedonia is completely different than in Berlin or London. "We don't give each other big presents," she said. "It's a time of contemplation - children, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts come together and are there for each other."
There is also only one famous Christmas song in Macedonia: "Kolede." Children sing it on the morning of January 6th when they go door to door, collecting chocolate, cake, oranges, apples and chestnuts from neighbors, friends and family. "Kolede" tells a strange tale, which Silvera Padori translates: "It's cold, icy cold! A wooden beam has fallen on Grandpa's head and killed him. It was painful. Grandma cried a lot. Loneliness and cold. But tomorrow is Christmas. We will eat a suckling pig. We will drink red wine. And it will be nice."
For the Macedonian Christmas evening, Silvera Padori will bake a salty pita, with a coin hidden inside. The person who gets that part of the bread with the coin in it will be lucky in love, health, success and money matters the entire year. Frohe Weihnachten. Merry Christmas. Streken Bozhik! All good things come in threes.