The holidays are approaching, which imposes a common question on many people – where, with whom to go and what to do, how to organize an ideal vacation for the family, with friends, colleagues or how to please yourself.
A country with a long and rich tradition, on whose ground many civilizations and cultures have intertwined, Serbia today inherits a layered historical experience, customs, holidays, habits, and often routines that make the days of celebration different from the usual daily routine. The abundance of important and diverse holidays that nurture memories of past times are also an important part of the tourist offer mosaic.
Holiday celebrations in Serbia are often a surprise and an unforgettable experience for many guests and tourists, because in addition to unusual visual impressions, they also experience a specific spiritual insight, along with the inevitable array of gastronomic specialties of local caterers.
As a global phenomenon and for many “the most important of 365 days” – New Year’s Eve brings a completely different atmosphere to Serbia as well – lavishly decorated streets, squares and pedestrian zones, street musicians who add rhythm and mood to the pre-holiday euphoria, outdoor celebrations, the smell of mulled wine, numerous gastronomic specialties that are often eaten on the go. In other words, spontaneous good time with family, friends, colleagues…
During the New Year holidays, Belgrade exudes positive energy and vibrations that have already been felt by tens of thousands of people from the region, Europe and the whole world – some recounting them, and others returning to the Serbian capital again to add another unforgettable day to their lives, regardless of whether they will remember the house parties, the charm of Skadarlija, the rhythm of discotheques, the charm of restaurants, pubs and cafes, a concert in the city center, when under the colorful sparks of fireworks it doesn’t matter who you are and where you are from, because – it’s important to have fun and make memories that make life easier until the next New Year’s Eve.
A fierce rhythm and a good atmosphere await the guests of Zlatibor, where the notes of tradition and brewed brandy intertwine on Kraljev Trg. And the next day – a walk by the lake, among hundred-year-old conifers, relaxation and nirvana in search of Tornik’s ozone, which the Gold Gondola will take you to.
Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated in Serbia, according to the Julian calendar, on January 7, has left the framework of tradition and celebration within the family a long time ago. Belgrade bakers have established their own tradition – the ritual breaking of Česnica in the center of the city, when hundreds of outstretched hands expect to find a gold coin in their piece of Christmas bread, which should symbolize a year of prosperity.
Christmas is preceded by Christmas Eve, during which the Christmas tree is lit – a large oak branch with leaves that survived the fall. That act is the occasion to organize a ceremony in front of the Cathedral of St. Sava in Vračar, the largest Orthodox place of worship in this area, which, as it turned out years ago, exceeds the spiritual needs of believers, becoming at the same time a kind of tourist attraction. In the spirit of the holiday, art-minded guests are recommended to visit the Gallery of Frescoes at Cara Uroša 20 or the National Museum on the Republic Square.
Candlemas – Statehood Day of Serbia – February 15 and 16
The national holiday of Sretenje also has spiritual symbolism – in 1835, the first constitution in the history of Serbia was adopted, known as the Sretenje Constitution, the most modern in Europe at the time, which separated the legislative, executive and judicial powers, abolishing slavery and feudal relations, whose democracy was opposed by at the time leading feudal world powers – Austria, Russia and Turkey. The holiday is administratively connected with the rise of the First Serbian Uprising, which was led by Karađorđe Petrović in Orašac in 1804, starting the liberation of the people from Turkish rule.
In Topčider Park, a part of the past is summarized in Miloš’s residence, across the street from the Patriarchate in the luxury of Princess Ljubica’s Residence, at the foot of Kalemegdan as a watchman over ancient times stands the Nebojša Tower, in the Gallery of Frescoes there are about 1,300 copies of fresco painting from the period from the 11th to the middle of the 15th century, with numerous copies of icons and miniatures from that period… Belgrade is history and history is in Belgrade!
Resurrection Sunday/Easter is one of the traditional Christian holidays that families, religious and spiritual communities all over the world celebrate by painting Easter eggs. It is a holiday that, unlike Christmas, does not always have the same date, determined by the religious calendar, but in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it brings a series of apt events.
In Belgrade, it is a procession on the plateau in front of the Church of St. Sava, which is full of scenographic elements with a three-dimensional display of the icons of the birth, baptism and transfiguration, the entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, the suffering and resurrection of Christ, depicting “the journey from Christmas to Easter”. The tradition of dyeing Easter eggs – “pisanice”, is an additional pearl of nurturing tradition, and often an artistic symbol of Christ’s resurrection, with uniquely colored and decorated eggs. Anyone who happens to be in Belgrade at that time or who happens to be passing by will have unforgettable memories.
Labor Day on May 1 and 2
International Labor Day, which is slowly fading in most countries of the world, is still traditionally celebrated in Serbia every May 1 and 2. For the curious who would like to feel the spirit of the past and the recent past, the Museum of the History of Yugoslavia, the Josip Broz Tito Memorial Center, the Military Museum… but also the Kafana SFRJ restaurant, on the staircase between Kosančićev venac and Sava Pier.
Moreover, May 1st is the time to escape from the city to the surrounding picnic areas, to nature, to the banks of rivers and lakes, to forests and glades, when most of the family and friends indulge in hedonism, a good atmosphere with jokes, music, barbecue and gastronomic delicacies. Invite your friends to the May Day morning or let them invite you and enjoy – from Avala, whose tower offers a view of Serbia, to the centuries-old forests of Košutnjak, the diversity of Ada Ciganlija, the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers or picnic spots on Kosmaj, Zlatibor and Fruška Gora, indulge yourself the meanders and meadows of Zasavica, the vineyards of Vršački breg and Sremski Karlovac, the cascades of Deliblatska peščara… You only live once!
Armistice Day in the First World War – November 11
Armistice Day in the First World War, November 11, is a national holiday in the Republic and a day of remembrance of the event from 1918, when the Entente Powers signed an armistice with Germany in a railway carriage in Compiègne, thus ending the First World War. Along with that date, Serbia highlights the symbolism of suffering, endurance and renewal – Natalie’s ramonda, a flower that grows in Eastern Serbia, on the slopes of Rtanj.
A day dedicated to the memory of significant events in Serbian history, from the withdrawal of Serbian soldiers through Albania and the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front in 1918. The collection of testimonies from that era is kept by the Military Museum within the Belgrade Fortress, with around 33,000 objects systematized in 15 collections and with an impressive photo library of 100,000 photographs.