In Serbian tradition бадњак [bǎdɲaːk] is a tree branch or young tree brought into the house and placed on the fire. This would be preformed, as in other similar European traditions, to ensure prosperity and abundance to the household. In the morning the men would go to cut down the tree. If it is not cut down after the third blow of the axe, then it must be pulled and twisted until its trunk breaks. The resulting badnjak has a so-called "beard". The family would bring offerings to the tree referring to it as "cousin", "old one" and "merrymaker". In the evening it would be laid on the fire to burn throughout the night. This custom is originally connected to the winter solstice and nowadays practiced on Christmas Eve. Here tree represents the old and dying spirit of vegetation which is ritually burned in the longest night of the year so it could be reborn the next morning and thrive with the growing Sun.