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Culture and traditions

Brief

 

Serbian culture starts with that of the South Slavic peoples that lived in the Balkans.Trough the centuries it has been influenced by neighbouring countries, as well as Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans, thus developing a unique blend of national traditions, surviving to modern days.Following Serbia's autonomy after the Serbian revolution and eventual independence, the culture of Serbia was restrengthened within its people.

 

 

Religion

 

Conversion of the South Slavs from Paganism to Christianity began in the early 7th century, long before the Great Schism, 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 acknowledged the suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire.

 

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.

 

 

Language

 

The Serbian language is a member of the South Slavic group of languages, specifically the Southwestern Slavic group. It is mutually intelligible with the standard Croatian and Bosnian language. The Serbian language comprises several dialects, the standard language is based on the Stokavian dialect.

 

It is an official language in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. In Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania, it is a regionally recognized minority language.

 

Serbian is the only European language with active digraphia, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.

 

 

Traditions and customs

 

A zapis is a tree in Serbia that is sacred for the village within whose bounds it is situated. A cross is inscribed into the bark of each zapis. Most of these trees are large oaks. Prayers are offered to God under the crown of the zapis, where also church services may be held, especially on village festivals observed to supplicate God for protection against destructive weather conditions. In settlements without a church, ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms used to be conducted under the tree. Folk tradition maintains that great misfortune will happen to anyone who dares to fell a zapis. According to Serbian scholar Veselin Čajkanović, the zapis is inherited from the pre-Christian religion of the Serbs, in which it had been used as a temple.

 

 

Along with the traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter there are many unique Serbian holidays, such as:

 

Slava, also called krsna slava is the Serbian Orthodox tradition of the veneration and observance of the family's patron saint. All Serbs celebrate Slava, every family has their own patron saint that they celebrate on the feast day. It is of pre-Christian origin.

 

Vidovdan (28 June) is sacred to ethnic Serbs (Serbian Orthodox Christians) and the cult was especially active among the South Slavs, who had transformed the pagan Slavic god Svetovid into the Sicilian martyr, who exorcized the evil out of Diocletian's son. Through the centuries, Serbian historical events such as the defeat at the Battle of Kosovo became sources for spiritual strength and patriotism.

 

Vrbica or Lazareva Subota (Lazarus Saturday) is a Serbian Orthodox tradition that has origins in the Eastern Christian feast of Lazarus Saturday, however the feast has its own features. The feast celebrates the resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany, the narrative of which is found in the New Testament Gospel of John.

 

The Serbian Orthodox Church uses the traditional Julian Calendar, as per which Christmas Day (December 25) falls 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.