Slava (Cyrillic: Слава) is the Orthodox Christian custom of honoring a family
patron saint. It is celebrated by the Serbs, but also in parts of the Republic of Macedonia[Cite web|title=Породична слава и сличне славе у охридско-струшкој области|url=http://www.rastko.org.yu/antropologija/glasnici-ei/45/jtrifunovski.pdf|publisher=Bulletin of the Ethnografical Institute SASA, vol XLV|author=Jovan F. Trifunovski|language=Serbian] and Bulgaria, [Cite web|title=За пропагандната употреба на празника|url=http://www.liternet.bg/publish7/phristov/praznika.htm|publisher=Literature Network|author=Petko Hristov|language=Bulgarian] as well as among some Croatsand the Gorani people.
It is believed that the South Slavs adopted the tradition at the time of their
Christianization, some time in the late 9th century. Some believe that the day of the mass baptismitself was taken as the saint protector, others claim that each clan adopted its collective protector, while others still claim that the "slava" is simply the saint which replaced a pre-existing pagan god-protector. At times, a new "slava" would be adopted, should a saint be believed to have interceded for some sort of deliverance (i.e., from illness or affliction). The new saint would be adopted "in lieu" of the old, whose day would still be marked by a lighting of a candle, with much less fanfare.
Some also believe the "slava" to be a remnant from Slavic paganism which had a myriad of gods before adopting
Christianity. The Serbs in particular held strongly onto their old Slavic religion; the last pagan temple in Serbia, in Svetovid, was destroyed by Tsar Dušan in the 14th century. That the "slava" often varies according to geographical regions is claimed as evidence of the above. But even this notion need not contradict the traditional explanation that the "slava" is celebrated on the day of christening of the first-baptized ancestor, and in fact, it may very well underscore it.
The "slava" was cannonically introduced for the first time by Archbishop
Saint Savaof the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Unlike most customs that are common for an entire people, each family separately celebrates its own
saint; of course, there is quite a bit of overlap. It is inherited from the head of the household—normally the father—to sons. Daughters inherit the "slava" only if they stay in the home, while married women normally celebrate their husbands' saint.
Each household has one or two celebrations per year (depending on the saint in question, for some have two days devoted to them). Yet, only one is the main day of the patron saint feast (and not necessarily the same of the two days for all families); the second celebration is referred to as "little "slava" or "preslava".
Some families may also celebrate yet another saint to a lesser extent (for example, when the wife is the only descendant of her kinship so the tradition of her "slava" would otherwise be lost).
Should a particular household move far away, with the father's permission, a son might celebrate the "slava" in his own home; usually, however, for as long as a family patriarch is alive, his sons should celebrate under his roof.Verify source|date=July 2007
The occasion brings all of the family together, and a feast is normally prepared, including traditional foods: "slavski kolač" ("славски колач") and "
koljivo" ("кољиво"). "Slavski kolač" literally means "the "slava" cake", although it is actually more similar to bread. Depending on whether the celebration falls during fasting, "slavski kolač" is made with or without eggs, butter and milk.
The top of the "kolač" is adorned with the sign of the Cross, the "Dove of Peace", and other symbols that relate to the family. "Koljivo" (also called "žito") is made of boiled wheat. It can be prepared in a variety of ways but most usually includes
walnuts, nutmegs and/or cloves, and honey.
The wheat is a symbol of the
Resurrection of Christand deceased family members. Depending on whether the celebration falls in a period of fasting, the rest of the feast consists of animal-free ("posni") meals or not ("mrsni"); thus, colloquially, "slavas" can be referred to as "mrsne" or "posne".
On the day of the "slava", the family attends church services and partakes in Holy Communion. Following the service, the parish priest is received in the family's home. He performs a small service which entails venerating the Saint's memory, blessing the "slavski kolač" and "koljivo", as well as lighting the "slava" candle". Though not necessary, it is common for the priest to bless the house and perform a small memorial service for dead relatives.
The most common
feast days are St. Nicholas(falling on December 19), St. George( May 6, see Đurđevdan), St. John the Baptist( January 20), Saint Demetrius( November 8) and St. Michael( November 21).
Many Serbian communities (villages, cities, organizations, political parties, institutions, companies, professions) also celebrate their
patron saint. For example, the city of Belgradecelebrates the Ascension as its "slava".
* [http://www.rastko.org.yu/bogoslovlje/hvojinovic-slava_c.html Srpska slava ili krsno ime] - a list of saints, descriptions of customs sr icon
* [http://www.vreme.com/cms/view.php?id=470748 Mrsni post] , Zoran Majdin,
Vreme827, 9 November 2006. sr icon
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