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winter traditions: december: St. Nicolas'day (Nikulden) - December 6

     That is one of the biggest family holidays celebrated in the winter.
     The holiday honors St. Nicola - patron of the seas, sailors and fishermen. Bankers and salesmen also honor him as their protector.
     Fish meals are necessarily prepared for the celebration of this day. While scaling the fish women should be careful not to let its scales fall on the floor because it is believed that if someone steps on them this someone may get ill or die. The bones should be burnt, buried in the ground or thrown in the river. They sew the parietal bone in the hats of the children to protect them from sickness and the evil eye. The prepared meals are usually from carp fish, because it is believed that it is "the servant of St. Nicola". According to the legend once when St. Nicola went out in the sea with his boat a storm came up and punctured his boat. St. Nicola caught a carp fish and plugged up the crack. Тhat is how he and his companions were saved.
     There are different kinds of bread prepared in honor of the saints: bogovitsa, svetets (saint), kravaj (ring-shaped bun), paraklis (chapel) and nikul bread. Roasted carp fish and ribnik (fish meal) are served as an offering (kurban). The whole carp fish stuffed with rise and grits, with walnuts and raisins is roasted and after censing it is broken up and served. The ribnik is also made of carp fish which is folded into dough and then baked after it is flatten down and oiled. Different patterns can be made on top of it, dough balls and sticks representing the spine, the tail and the eyes of the carp fish can also be stuck on it.
     They leave the table with all the dishes on it all day long. It is available for the guests at any time. Except for the fish and the bread there is also beans stew, stuffed cabbage or vine leaves and other meatless meals, soaked in olive oil or walnuts or sesame oil.

     Church Holiday: the memory of St. Nicola Mirlikliiski Chudotvirets, also called Nicolaj Ugodnik. He was proclaimed the bishop of town Mir during the time of Emperor Constantine the Great. He dies in 342. As a spiritual father of Mir he bestowed strength and life to the ill and low-spirited. He is renowned for his miracles in saving the sailors and the ships from the sea storm. That is the reason why this day is considered the end of the autumn and winter fishing period. Тhe caught fish is offered as a sacrifice to the saint. At this day all the ships in the open sea stop their voyage to honor the patriot saint.

     Ritual Table: ritual breads, fish and meatless meals.