Slava, celebration of family saint patron’s day

Inscribed in 2014 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Ethographic museum in Belgrade, 2013
In Serbia, Orthodox Christian families celebrate an important holiday in honour of the patron saint, Slava, who is believed to be their protector and provider of welfare. The celebration consists of the ritual offering of a bloodless sacrifice and a feast held for relatives, neighbours and friends. A specially designed candle is lit in the family home, then wine is poured over a Slava cake, prepared and decorated by the host’s wife, which is then cut crosswise, rotated and broken into four parts and lifted up. During the ritual, thanks are given to the saint and prayers are said for prosperity. The cutting is performed by the host and the oldest or most important guest and other family members. The feast then begins with the ceremonial drinking of wine, eating and a toast expressing wishes for health, fertility and well-being of the family and guests. Knowledge related to the Slava is passed down in families, with women playing an important role in transmitting knowledge concerning the performance of rituals, their meaning and purpose. The Slava feast reinforces social relations and plays an important role in establishing and maintaining dialogue in multi-ethnic and multi-confessional areas.
Consecration of the family Slava cakes in the church.
Ritual cutting of the family Slava cakes crosswise in the church on St. Nikola’s Day (Nikoljdan).
Prayer and consecration of the Slava cake at home, on St. Dimitrios’ Day (Mitrovdan), the day of the family patron saint.
The ritual of cutting the Slava cake crosswise, performed in the family with the priest on St. Dimitrios’ Day (Mitrovdan).
Host, hostess and their heirs are cutting the Slava cake crosswise on the St. Nicolas’ Day (Nikoljdan), their family patron saint’s day.
Hostess performs ritual decoration of the family Slava cake with small branch of basil.
The Slava feast on the day of the family patron saint.
Ritual blowing out of the Slava candle with family members at the ending of the feast.
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