Celebrating Sava in Serbia

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The celebration of Sava, or Patron Saint Day, is the second most significant religious holiday after Christmas in Serbia. Unlike most holidays that are common to the entire country, the celebration of Sava is celebrated by each family separately. This is because each family has their own ‘Sava’, or Saint, that is said to watch over and protect the entire family. This tradition dates back to the family’s ancestors, and each saint has its specific date for celebration and worship in the Orthodox Julian calendar.

During the celebration of your ‘Sava’, each family has their own dedicated national-holiday and do not work during their holy day. After a woman gets married, she takes her husband’s Sava and passes it down to her children. Being a religious holiday, the celebration starts early in the morning at church where flowers and candles are dedicated as a token of gratitude to the saint. Almost immediately after church, the preparations begin… and all madness breaks loose.

Everyone plays a part in the preparations whether it be cleaning, cooking, making wine, roasting the pig, or setting the table. The feast for Sava is enormous. In Serbia, family-ties are greatly valued and preserved, meaning it isn’t a dinner for just your immediate family; it is your cousins’ cousins and aunts’ aunts coming to the feast. Celebrating Sava with my host- family was absolutely incredible and a linguistic challenge all on its own. Hearing and trying to maintain fluid conversations with family members from all over the region exposed me to dialects unfamiliar to me. Being accepted at their table on such a meaningful day meant so much to me and it is an experience and memory I will cherish forever.

By: Adriana Garcia

Program: Balkan Language Initiative, Belgrade, Serbia

Term: Academic Year 2018-19

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