There is an old Serbian folk saying: “It’s better to sell the country, rather than lose traditions.” Traditions and customs of a nation, in addition to language and religion, are important keepers of the ethnic identity of a community. The most common and best-known Serbian traditions are related to the life cycle, including the wedding.
The most important feature of Serbian wedding is “a ton of food “! There is a lot of food, particularly meat, and beverages, especially Serbian traditional Rakija (type of brandy) and Wine.
Traditional wedding etiquette in Serbia
In the morning, when receiving guests at bridegroom’s house, and then at the bride’s home, the hosts usually set up the buffet table. Here, you can find bakery products, sweet biscuits, canapes, croissants, small muffins, bagels and similar delicacies. Thereafter, the newlyweds and guests go to a wedding ceremony, in a church.
After the wedding ceremony in the church, the guests go to the Wedding Luncheon. According to Serbian tradition, the dining hall is a Wedding Tent instead of the restaurant or hotel. According to the custom, the Serbs prefer to organize big weddings, so the tent is a perfect solution. What kind of food Serbs serve at traditional wedding? A lot of roast lamb and pork are required, as well as boiled cabbage (with several types of meat). Spit-cooked beef meat is served mainly in rural areas.
The rule is this: The Best man, the Bridesman, Dever (brother-in-law) and Barjaktar (a cousin who carries decorated flag as a symbol of happy marriage), should sit down at the table together with the newlyweds. The other wedding guests sit at several long tables.
The Wedding Luncheon is composed of several parts: 1) an appetizer, 2) a soup, 3) a main dish, 4) roast or grilled meatgrill and 5) a lot of cakes. This is the sit down meal.
Here are several examples of Serbian traditional wedding menu
- The classic menu
- Cold Appetizer
Njeguska prsuta and Uzicka prsuta (homemade prosciutto), homemade pork sausage, stuffed eggs, Russian Salad, Ham and cheese bread rolls, Kajmak (traditional dairy Product).
- Vegetable Potage or veal soup the Serbian way.
- A warm appetizer
Sarma (a dish made of cabbage, minced meat and rice) or Stuffed peppers (dried peppers are used).
- Main Course
Mixed meat roast (lamb, pork, veal), Potatoes on Serbian way (fat from roasted meat is topped), cooked vegetables. Mixed salad and chili peppers.
- A modern menu with a touch of tradition
- Cold Appetizer known as “Mladenacka zakuska “
Beef ham, Homemade prosciutto, Serbian cheese (semi soft cheese), Hard cheese (e.g. Iriski, Sjenicki), chicken salad, Leskovacki urnebes (cream cheese with red paprika pepper), Proja (type of corn-bread).
- Hot veal soup.
- Main Course
Any roast-meat or barbecue, side dishes, seasonal salads. The second choice is: Pork Medallions in mushroom sauce.
- Lepinja (Serbian flatbread).
- Wedding Cake and several other cakes.
Wedding cake and symbolism
Bride’s mother purchases wedding cake, according to an old custom. When the wedding cake is spectacularly presented, the bride and groom cut together the first piece of cake. The bride gives the groom first bite from this piece, making a mess around his mouth! Then, the groom has to do the same thing to her. Then, they should kiss each other. They wipe their mouths by kisses! Funny and silly! This custom symbolizes the happiness of married life. The married life should be sweet like cakes!
There are different cakes, at Serbian weddings. Usually, female wedding guests bring cakes. They are sisters, aunts and other closest relatives.
And so, with food, with drinks and toasts, Serbian wedding lasts until the early morning hours. Sometimes, Serbian wedding may last for a few days!
Surely, we may conclude, the respect of marriage is deeply rooted in the Serbian tradition.