January 2012

As normal the first half of the month is a wash-out for anything to do with business. All government offices shut on 31 December for New Year, and Orthodox Christmas is on 7 January.

Anke decides that we should introduce the Scottish custom of ‘first-footing’ our neighbours. In Scotland, this is actually done in the wee small hours immediately after midnight introduces the New Year. As we need an interpreter, we persuade Goran’s mother, Antonija, to go around with us during the afternoon of the 1st. As is proper, we take something to eat (Anke made Dundee cake especially) and something to drink (whisky of course). Normally we should also take something for the house, but we feel that is too complicated, so modify the custom for local conditions! Unsurprisingly, we are well received, especially the whisky!

Our landlord Goran, as in previous years, prepares a whole lamb on the day before Badnjak (Christmas Eve) which is then roasted on a spit over an open wood fire for about 6 hours during Badnjak. As we are non-Orthodox, we are allowed to have some hot that evening – delicious. The family and other friends who came to ‘assist’ – ie chat and drink rakija – have to eat fish on Badnjak, and cold lamb on Christmas Day (Božić). Goran kindly invites us to join him for dinner on Christmas Day, so we get to eat cold lamb as well!

Domestic activities include Anke using up the kiwis to make 3kg jam.

We get the UTUs (Urbanistički Tehnički Uslovi = urbanistic technical requirements)! Although they are signed off on 10 January, we do not get them until the 31st, as Billie, who organised the application for us, is out of the country on holiday until the beginning of that week (when schools restart after the break).