Despite the fact that 90 percent of Kosovo’s population are Muslims, being mostly ethnic Albanians, there are still many Christians, largely of Serbian ethnicity, living in Kosovo.
|2019||7 Jan||Mon||Orthodox Christmas Day|
|25 Dec||Wed||Catholic Christmas Day|
|2020||7 Jan||Tue||Orthodox Christmas Day|
|25 Dec||Fri||Catholic Christmas Day|
For the most part, it is Christians in the Serbian Orthodox Church who celebrate Christmas in Kosovo, but there are also some Roman Catholics in the country. And there are even sizable numbers of Muslims who attend Christmas church services with their Christian friends.
Orthodox Christmas comes on January 7th, nearly two weeks after the December 25th date observed by Catholics and Protestants. Orthodox Christmas is a national holiday in Kosovo, and churches hold midnight services by candle light. There are also sometimes special Christmas processions organised by churches. At home, families who celebrate Christmas gather for festive meals, gift-giving, and general merry-making, as in other parts of the world.
New Year’s Day is also a major holiday in Kosovo, coming about a week before Christmas for Catholics but about a week after Christmas for Serbian Orthodox. There will be fireworks displays, feasting, family gatherings, and many hotels and restaurants that hold New Year’s parties.
Should you visit Kosovo for Christmas, some ideas on what to do include:
- Visit the Gracanica Monastery, nor far from Pristina, the capital city. On Christmas Eve, this is the place of the “main” Christmas celebration in Kosovo. There will be a Christmas play, traditional services, and crowds of tourists. There are similar celebrations at the Decani Monastery, where a night vigil is held by devout pilgrims, and in the town of Badnyak, where the “yule log” is festively burnt.
- Tour Pristina. You will find there are many shopping opportunities in this town of around 200,000. There are also a number of museums, monuments, and monasteries. You can see the Kosova National Art Gallery, the Kosovo Museum, the 19th-Century Clock Tower, a 15th-Century Turkish bath called “The Great Hammam,” and The Ethnological Treasure of Kosovo, which is a museum housing relics of everyday life during Ottoman times. Finally, don’t neglect to stop by a coffee bar and taste the drink Kosovo is famous for.
- Get back to nature in Pec, a town in western Kosovo. There is a national park nearby in the Rugova mountains, also known as the “Albanian Alps,” where many go hiking, trekking, climbing, camping, and spelunking in the numerous caves. Paragliding is also a major attraction here, and in the winter, skiing and snow-walking is popular. The mountain peaks, waterfalls, and crystalline lakes of the Pec region are truly remarkable and help explain why Serbian monks once used the area and its caves as a place of meditation.
While Kosovo is not a majority-Christian land, many of its people do celebrate Christmas, and there are both festive events and year-round tourist attractions that will not disappoint.