SerbianLatinEnglish (UK)
subota, 24 februar 2018


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The Serb cultural memory starts with first South Slavic peoples that lived in the Balkans. Early on, Serbs may have been influenced by the Paleo-Balkan peoples. The Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire had a great influence on the culture; Serbs were initially governing the Byzantine frontiers in the name of the Emperor and were later through their sworn alliance given independence and baptized by Byzantine Greek missionaries, adopting the Cyrillic alphabet based on Greek. Serbian Orthodox Church gained autocephaly from Constantinople in 1219. The Republic of Venice heavily influenced the maritime regions in the Middle Ages. The Ottoman Empire conquered Serbia in 1459. The occupation lasted four centuries,  weakening the old cultural heritage, while at the same time greatluy influencing in arts. The culture flourished from 1718 in parts under the Habsburg Empire.

Following autonomy after the Serbian Revolution and eventual independence, the culture of Serbia could be re-strengthened within its nation. Socialist Realism was predominant in official art during the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia but recent decades have seen a growing influence from Western


Conversion of the South Slavs from paganism to Christianity began in the 7th century, long before the Great Schism, the split between the Greek Orthodox East and the Roman Catholic West, the Serbs were first Christianized during the reign of Heraclius (610-641) but were fully Christianized by Byzantine Christian Missionaries (Saints) Cyril and Methodius in 869 during Basil I, who sent them after Knez Mutimir had acknowledged the suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire. After the Schism, those who lived under the Byzantine sphere of influence became Orthodox and those who lived under the Roman sphere of influence became Catholic. Later, with the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, many Serbs were violently converted into Islam, and are today members of the Gorani and Bosniaks (Muslims by nationality).


Geographically this nation's Church represents the westernmost bastion of Orthodox Christianity in Europe, which shaped its historical fate through contacts with Catholicism and Islam.

The Serbs have suffered much in the history because of their religion. When the Ottoman Turks took over the Balkans, the Christians were not regarded as a people of the nation and were not able to own land, didn't have equal right in court etc. Many Serbs were converted against their will or converted without force for a better stance in the society or as slaves to the Ottomans in the Janissaries. In the World War II, the Serbs, living in a wide area, were persecuted by various people and organizations. The Catholic Croats under the Fascist Ustasha regime who recognized the Serbs only as "Croats of Eastern faith" and had the ideological visions of 1/3 of the Serbs murdered, 1/3 converted and the last third expulsed. The outcome of these visions were the death of at least 700,000 (only the victims in the Jasenovac concentration camp), 250,000 violently converted and 250,000 expelled.

Given names

As with most Western cultures, a child is given a first name chosen by their parents but approved by the godparents of the child (the godparents usually approve the parent's choice). The given name comes first, the surname last, e.g. "Željko Popović", where "Željko" is a first name and "Popović" is a family name. Female names end with -a, e.g. Dragan -> Dragana.

Popular names are mostly of Serbian (Slavic), Christian (Biblical), Greek and Latin origin.


Most Serbian surnames (like Bosnian, Croatian and Montenegrin) have the surname suffix -ić (pronounced Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [itʲ] or [itɕ], Cyrillic: -ић). This is often transliterated as -ic or -ici. In history, Serbian names have often been transcribed with a phonetic ending, -ich or -itch. This form is often associated with Serbs from before the early 20th century: hence Milutin Milanković is usually referred to, for historical reasons, as Milutin Milankovitch.

The -ić suffix is a Slavic diminutive, originally functioning to create patronymics. Thus the surname Petrić signifies little Petar, as does, for example, a common prefix Mac ("son of") in Scottish & Irish, and O' (grandson of) in Irish names.


Traditional Serbian cuisine is varied and can be regarded as a mix of central European, Mediterranean and Middle eastern cuisine. Ćevapčići consisting of grilled heavily seasoned mixed ground meat patties is considered to be the national dish. Other notable dishes include Serbian salad, Sarma (stuffed cabbage), podvarak (roast meat with cabage). Česnica is a traditional bread for Christmas Day.

Slivovitz, a distilled fermented plum brandy is the national drink of Serbia with 70% of domestic plum production being used to make it. Domestic wines are also popular. Boiled (similar to Greek) coffee is widely drunk as well.


Serbs speak the Serbian language, a member of the South Slavic group of languages including Macedonian and Bulgarian. It is mutually intelligible with the standard Croatian and Bosnian language (and some linguists still consider it part of the pre-war Serbo-Croatian language).

Serbian is the only European language with active digraphia, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is traditional and was devised in 1814 by Vuk Karadžić, who created the alphabet on phonemic principles; the Cyrillic itself has its origins in Cyril and Methodius transformation from the Greek script.

The word "Vampire" entered most West European languages through German-language texts in the early 18th century and has since spread widely in the world. Those texts were describing a phenomena of mass fear and mysterious death in central Serbia, all of which the locals blamed on the mythical creatures - Vampires. (See our SERBIAN VAMPIRES tour). Another word that came from Serbian and entered most world's languages is "paprika", a spice made from Capsicum/bell pepper/chilli pepper, a common ingredient in variety of Serbian dishes.


Miroslav's Gospel is one of the earliest works of Serbian literature dating from between 1180 and 1191 and one of the most important works of the medieval period. This work was entered into UNESCO's Memory of the World program in 2005. Serbian epic poetry was a central part of medieval Serbian literature based on historic events such as the Battle of Kosovo. Serbia writer Ivo Andrić won Nobel prize for "Bridge over Drina" novel.

Traditions and customs

Serbs have an abundance of traditions. The Slava is an exclusive custom of the Serbs - each family has one patron saint that they venerate on his feast day. The Serbian Orthodox Church uses the traditional Julian Calendar, as per which Christmas Day (December 25) falls currently on January 7 of the Gregorian Calendar, thus the Serbs celebrate Christmas on January 7, shared with the Orthodox churches of Jerusalem, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and the Greek Old Calendarists.

The Serbs are a highly family-oriented society. A peek into a Serbian dictionary and the richness of their terminology related to kinship speaks volumes.


Most internationally popular music from Serbia comes from trumpet orchestras. After returning from WWI military trumpeters kept their trumpets, and occasionally played it at public gatherings. That’s how is born music which excites whole world, and is mostly popularized by composer Goran Bregović .

Serbian music dates from the medieval period with strong church and folk traditions. During the Nemanjic dynasty and under other rulers such as Stefan Dušan, musicians enjoyed royal patronage. First king of the Nemanjić dynasty, Stefan is known from loving to play gusle (a one-stgring instrument). There is a strong folk tradition in Serbia dating from this time.

During Ottoman rule, Serbs were forbidden to own property, to learn to read and write and denied the use of musical instruments. Church music had to be performed in private. Gusle, a one-stringed instrument, was popularized among Serbian peasants during this time in an effort to find a loophole through the stringent Ottoman laws.

Folk music enjoyed a resurgence in the nineteenth century. Traditional Serbian folk music remains popular today especially in rural areas. Western rock and pop music has become increasingly popular especially in cities. Serbia recently won the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.

Serbian theatre and cinema

Serbia has a well-established theatrical tradition with many theaters. The Serbian National Theatre was established in 1861 with its building dating from 1868. The company started performing opera from the end of the 19th century and the permanent opera was established in 1947. It established a ballet company.

Serbian cinema continued to make progress in the 1990s and today despite the turmoil of the 1990s. Emir Kusturica won a Golden Palm for Best Feature Film at the Cannes Film Festival for Underground in 1995. In 1998, Kusturica won a Silver Lion for directing Black Cat, White Cat.

Serbian handcrafts

Serbia has a long tradition of handicrafts. Đakovica in Kosovo was known for its black pottery. Pirot in eastern Serbia became known for its ceramics under the Ottomans with the potters following Byzantine designs. It also became a centre for the production of Ćilims or rugs.

The Slavs introduced jewelery making to Serbia in the sixth century AD. Metalworking started to develop on a significant scale following the development of a Serbian state. Workshops were set up in towns, large estates and in monasteries. The Studenica Monastery was known for the quality of its goldsmithing. Coins were minted not only by the kings but some of the wealthier nobility. The nobility also was influenced by the wealth of the Byzantine court. Metalworking like many other arts and crafts went into decline following the Ottoman conquest. However, there was a partial revival in later centuries with a strong Baroque influence notably the 17th century silverwear at "Our Lady on the Rocks" on Boka Kotorska.

Serbian cultural institutions

Matica Srpska is the oldest and most notable cultural and scientific organisation in today's Serbia.At the beginning of the 21st century, there were 32 art galleries and 142 museums in Serbia. Most significan cultural institutions are located in Belgrad - the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade, the Gallery of Frescoes featuring Orthodox Church art, the Ethnographic Museum and the Princess Ljubica's Residence. Novi Sad contains the Vojvodina Museum as well as the Petrovaradin fortress.


The Serbian coat of arms features a white two-headed eagle, which represents dual power and sovereignty (monarch and church), and was the coat of arms of the House of Nemanjić.

The Serbian cross is based on the Byzantine cross, but where the Byzantine Cross held 4 Greek letter 'V' (or 'B') meaning King of Kings, ruling over Kings, the Serbian cross turned the Byzantine "B" into 4 Cyrillic letters of 'S' (C) with little stylistic modification. If displayed on a field, traditionally it is on red field, but could be used with no field at all.

Both the eagle and the cross, besides being the basis for various Serbian coats of arms through history, are bases for the symbols of various Serbian organizations, political parties, institutions and companies.

A traditional hat that is called the šajkača. It is easily recognizable by its top part that looks like the letter V or like the bottom of a boat (viewed from above), after which it got its name. It gained wide popularity in the early 20th century as it was the hat of the Serbian army in the First World War.