In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.
I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries. Here are 9 interesting facts about Serbian culture.
1 // It’s all in the family
The typically Western sense of individualism is not as prevalent in Serbia. They are often more family- and friend-minded.
2 // Two writing systems
Serbian is the only European language with “active digrapia”. This means that it uses two writing systems – both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. The Cyrillic alphabet is still used for more official documents and in schools, but more and more Serbs are opting to use the Latin alphabet outside of these realms.
3 // Humor is greatly appreciated
Serbians are known for having a good sense of humor. The most common type of humor is black humor and jokes about local stereotypes. Although, it’s probably best to leave the latter to the locals. 🙂
4 // Show your appreciation
In Serbia, hospitality is quite important and your Serbian friends will often go out of their way to make your visit enjoyable. When your host offers something they themselves prepared, be sure to acknowledge their efforts.
5 // Treat your friends
When eating out, offering to pay the bill entirely rather than splitting it will go a long way to helping you build relationships. Sometimes the only way you can do this is by sneaking over to the cashier (a fight for who pays the bill might happen otherwise).
6 // Lumping Serbians in with any other Slavic nation
A quick way to cause offense amongst Serbians would be to lump them in with the other nations from ex-Yugoslavia.
7 // A uniquely Serbian holiday
Slava is the celebration of the feast day of a family’s patron saint (passed down by the father to sons) and it is a uniquely Serbian tradition. The origins of this holiday date back to when the Serbs were pagan tribes and each household had its own protective god. The tradition was later assimilated by the Serbian Orthodoxy and Christian saints replaced the original deities.
8 // The New Year’s tree
In Serbia, trees are bought to celebrate New Year rather than Christmas (where a Yule log is the centerpiece).
9 // Eye Contact
Eye contact is important when shaking hands and greeting one another or when clinking glasses in Serbia.
This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! Serbia. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of t a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here.
What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learned about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!
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My name is Shannon Kennedy and I'm the language lover, traveler, and foodie behind Eurolinguiste. I'm also the Resident Polyglot at Drops and the Head Coach of the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge.