Serbian Culture

Etiquette

Basic Etiquette

  • There is a strong coffee culture in Serbia. Black coffee (‘crna kafa’) is served frequently throughout the day.
  • Serbians are generally very hospitable people and often enjoy visiting and chatting with others.
  • People tend to dress neatly. Wearing overly casual clothing in public may be considered inappropriate.

 

Visiting

  • Serbians frequently visit one another and enjoy spending time with friends and family.
  • Major events such as birthdays tend to be planned. Conversely, visiting friends and family unannounced is often welcomed.
  • It is considered to be an honour to be invited to a family’s slava (a celebration of a family’s patron saint). If invited, bring a symbolic gift, such as a bottle of wine, and greet everyone by saying “Srecna slava”.
  • When visiting churches, it is expected that one acts politely and avoids raising their voice. Shoulders should be covered and hats should be removed upon entering.

 

Eating

  • Most people eat three meals daily (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The main meal of the day is lunch, often eaten in the afternoon.
  • Dinner often contains several courses, including a soup, a main dish and a dessert.
  • Most expect that others will get more food when they wish rather than wait to be offered more servings.
  • Placing your cutlery together and leaving it on the plate indicates that you have finished eating.
  • It is customary for the host to pay when dining out. You may offer to contribute, but avoid asking to split the bill. You can express gratitude by offering to take your host out for a meal at a later date.
  • When consuming alcohol, it is common for people to toast. They will raise their glasses, say ‘Živeli’ and look into the eyes of all the people they toast with. 
  • Rakija is the national drink of Serbia. It is often homemade and many hosts will offer their male guests rakija. 
  • Leave your glass unfinished to indicate that you do not want more alcohol. 


Gift Giving

  • It is considered rude to refuse to accept a gift.
  • Gifts are generally opened when received.
  • Common gifts include a bottle of wine or flowers.

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