Slava, celebration of family saint patron’s day


Inscribed in 2013 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Ethographic museum in Belgrade, 2013

© 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.

© Ethographic museum in Belgrade, 2013

© Ethographic museum in Belgrade, 2013

Republic of Serbia joined UNESCO on 20.12.2000

Republic of Serbia is a sovereign state situated in South East Europe, covering the Balkans. Serbia borders Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; FYR Macedonia to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro to the west. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is one of the largest cities in Southeast Europe.

National Commission for UNESCO

Secretary-General: Mrs Jasna Zrnovic

Councellor: Mrs Nada Dragic

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Kneza Milosa 24-26 11 000 Belgrade Republic of Serbia

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E-mail jasna.zrnovic(a) (SG); mirjana.vergas(a); nada.dragic(a); tindjic(a) (Pt)

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H. E. Mrs Zorica Tomic – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Delegate (27/11/2009)

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