Macedonians gathered on Sunday for Christmas eve according to the Julian calendar which is in force in the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

The traditional day of Badnik begins with children visiting their neighbors in the early morning hours, receiving gifts of fruits and candy, and ends with a Badnik dinner as the family welcomes Christmas. A bread with a coin hidden in it is broken and divided between family members, and whoever gets the coin is believed will have good luck for the entire year.

President Gjorge Ivanov, who gave presents to a group of children for Badnik, congratulated to all the Orthodox Christians on the birth of Christ.

We greet each other with the joyous words “Christ is born” and remember that the Savior was born to offer hope of salvation for all of humanity by appealing to our hearts. We celebrate this holiday with transformed hearts and full of love for our families and friends, our neighbors and with solidarity for all people, said President Ivanov.

On the morning, thousands of children joined processions in the centers of several cities. Archbishop Stefan, the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, held a service in the St. Clement of Ohrid cathedral in Skopje, among a large gathering of worshipers.

That unique event gave us something no-one else can give us. Without the birth of Christ, the Son of God, there could be no unity and closeness to God. His birth, through the Blessed Virgin, heralded the resurrection of the entire human kind, who has strayed from God through its sins, said Archbishop Stefan.