St. George’s Day (Đurđevdan) in Serbia

Toasts (zdravice, počašnice, nazdravice)
Interview with H.E. Mr. Željko Jović, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the Republic of Bulgaria
St. George’s Day (Đurđevdan) in Serbia
Domain: Social practices, customs and festive events;
Element inscribed on the National ICH Registry of Republic of Serbia

The St. George’s Day represents a significant ritual celebration for the beginning of spring or new fertile season, as well as one of the most common slava – celebration of family patron saint’s day, in Serbia. This spring holiday is celebrated once a year, on May 6th, under different names (Đurđevdan, Đurđovdan, Ml’zigruda, Premlaz, Erdelezi) on the entire territory of Serbia. Đurđevdan is a holiday of awakening of nature, when community members undertake various ritual actions, in order to transfer the power of revitalized nature, primarily new vegetation, to humans and cattle, poultry and bees, crops and vineyards, to provide well-being, fertility and prosperity of family and community and protection of livestock and crops for the coming year. Rituals are undertaken on the eve of holiday and they include collecting plants, herbs and flowers used as cattle food, making wreaths to decorate cattle, houses and hives. People wash their faces with water in which herbs were soaked to ensure health and progress, whereas young people bathe in rivers, especially at places close to mills’ water wheels, where they catch water droplets and take them home. Therewithal, ritual bread is baked, so it could be used in ritual milking of sheep, that is done on St. George’s Day for the first time in current year. From the milk obtained during this ritual, communities in eastern Serbia prepare belmuž – traditional shepherd dish made of unripened chees and corn flour, as mandatory part of the celebration of this spring holiday.

More information on the elements of ICH of Serbia that forms the complex custom of celebration of St. George’s Day: