Toasts (zdravice, počašnice, nazdravice)

Rug-making in Pirot
St. George’s Day (Đurđevdan) in Serbia
Toasts (zdravice, počašnice, nazdravice)
Domain: Oral traditions and expressions; Social practices;
Element inscribed on the National ICH Registry of Republic of Serbia



Toasts (zdravice, počašnice, nazdravice) represent public exclamation of good wishes on celebratory occasions. They are a part of rich custom practice and oral traditions and expressions that are present throughout Serbia. The social practice of giving toasts takes place at various private and public events, as well as in rituals of the annual and life cycle of the family and community members. In general, all important events and gatherings begin with toasts – different family celebrations, baptisms, birthdays, weddings, celebration of slava (family patron saint’s day), adulthood, graduation from school and college, etc. The toast-giver (zdravičar) recites the text of the toast by addressing the host or celebrant, those who are honored by the celebration as well as all participants of the event, expressing the best wishes for health, success and well-being. Zdravica is usually ending by ritual raising of a glass, bottle or woodcarved flask (čutura) and drinking the beverage such as šljivovica – Serbian traditional plum spirit, or vine. The exclamation of a toasts demands a performer with advanced rhetorical and drama performance skills, wherefore this social practice represents the remarkable example of human creativity. During pronunciation of toasts, the ability of improvisation and spontaneous reactions are particularly valued. For example, at the celebration of slava, the guest skilled in writing and delivering toasts may play a special role, since he has the knowledge and skill in expressing adequate wishes for prosperity and welfare of the family and guests. Moreover, toasts are a part of public performances on manifestations such as festivals and convocations (sabori) and they are included in presentation of various customs in media.

More information on this element of ICH of Serbia: