Christmas usually comes once a year, however there are places which are somewhat privileged – they have not one, but two Christmases! And not only two Christmases, but two New Year’s Eves too! Whoa!
Some Orthodox churches, like the Serbian church, still observe the 7th of January as the day when Jesus was born. The reason for this lie deep in history. Because it was the Catholic pope who ruled on the adoption of the new calendar, many churches not aligned to the papacy ignored it, such as Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox church. Protestants accepted the new calendar in the early 1700s, but the Russian, Serbian and Georgian Orthodox churches stuck with the Julian calendar, which runs 13 days late. However, for its multicultural character, Novi Sad equally celebrates both Julian and Gregorian calendar.
Novi Sad, Serbia’s second city and the capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, is famous for marrying and nurturing as many as 26 ethnic groups in one place. This is why its residents traditionally celebrate two Christmases and two New Year’s Eves. During the period which starts with the ’First Christmas’ on 25th December and finishes with the ’Second New Year’ on 14th January, occur a number of magical winter events. Joy, happy moments, exchanging of gifts and love turn the cold December and January into a warm and magical Winter Fantasy!
If you are coming to Novi Sad in this period, here are some recommendations for you. But first and foremost, we advise you to dress warm! Novi Sad, with its continental climate, knows to be very cold during wintertime. We know that mulled wine can keep you warm, but still… make sure you have all the necessary winter clothes and accessories with you. Then you are all set and ready to experience the winter vibes!
EXPERIENCE WINTER FANTASY
Winterfest in Novi Sad is the first and oldest Christmas Market in the country which has been just voted one of the top 10 best Christmas markets in Europe. Wooden chalets with traditional local produce and handicrafts are set up in the historic centre of Novi Sad – at the Liberty Square. The biggest attraction of the market is the big Singing Christmas Tree, where children and adult choirs sing in ten-ish different languages. There is also the opportunity for the play in the hay in which children happily dwell. For the romantic and leisurely ride, there is a horse-drawn carriage that takes you on a pleasant journey, not only through the streets of Novi Sad but also through time.
In order to make your Winter Fantasy complete, there is the magical Icy Forest. During December and January, the paths of the Danube Park turn into skating rinks while the trees decorated with lanterns transform the entire park into a true winter fairy tale that evokes joy and smiles. Hot tea, mulled wine and the smells of traditional winter foods will fill up your experience of the Novi Sad’s Winter Fantasy.
BURN YULE LOG AT CHRISTMAS EVES
Both Christmas Eves are normally spent with friends and family. Some would go on a midnight mass or liturgy, and some would find joy in burning the yule log in front of the churches, houses or in between the buildings in some neighborhoods in town. This is a communal activity that happens as the day darkens, in which people eagerly partake, share drinks and good mood. Chrismas carols are sung and recited by the youngest ones.
GO ON A DAY PUB CRAWL ON 31st DECEMBER
You don’t have to wait until the evening to start celebrating. Traditionally, most locals would leave their homes in the early afternoon and simply indulge in the rich festive offer out and about town. Most restaurants, cafes and bars are open from early to late hours, shining bright in Christmas decoration whilst playing jolly (and slightly louder) music, offering Christmas menus, delish cakes, craft beers and finest selection of wines. You might even come across the trumpeters in the streets and join this unique experience.
PARTY WITH STYLE AT THE NEW YEAR’S EVES
Serbians popularly call New Year’s Eve celebrations „Doček“ (pronounced as dochek). Recently it has been branded as such, and turned into massive celebrations happening at two central city squares (Liberty Square and Square of the Republic), the cultural stations and the Synagogue. The nights of 31st December and 13th January then turn into largest and most wanted parties in the city, created together by excellent musicians and choirs alongside tens of thousands of people overwhelmed by good vibrations.
Before midnight, the countdown is a must! Join the collective counting down of the last ten seconds of the year whilst, together with thousands of others, following the passage of time at the clock at the top of the gothic church overlooking the main square. The moment it ticks midnight, the magical explosion happens – of music, of sincere messages, of tight hugs, of shaking hands – all crowned by the spectacular firework!
Then the party goes on… not only until morning, but it also continues the following day, and the following night…
AND AFTER ALL, RELAX
After all this festive food and partying, you surely need to recuperate. You can choose between gastro pleasures or wellness treatments, between staying in the city or disappearing in its vicinity to enjoy the rural landscape and traditional foods.
In the very centre of town, there is an ideal place to relax – Atrium hamam. Morocco-inspired place offers the opportunity to enjoy the unique atmosphere and treatment with aromatic oils, accompanied by inevitable Moroccan tea before and after the treatment – such an amazing cure for body and soul! If you get hungry after the steam bath, our recommendation is to try the newly opened Moroccan restaurant or indulge in the flavors of traditional Vojvodinian cuisine. Warm homemade soup and Novi Sad specialties will tickle your imagination and act as an invitation for another visit.
To recharge your batteries, we recommend having rich-flavoured coffee in one of the many coffee shops in town. You can choose from intense, creamy, citrusy or milky aromas, as well as which method of preparation suits you best: espresso or filter, with or without milk, with various additives, or whether you just want a delish decaf drink.
We once again invite you to come to Novi Sad – the city that in 2019 has held the title of European Youth Capital and is slowly warming up for 2021 when it will become the European Capital of Culture – to feel the warmth of this magical city, to experience your winter fantasy and make memories you will always fondly remember.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!!