Exploring Serbian Culture

Serbia is a land-locked country located on the Balkan Peninsula in Europe. The north of the country is flat, while the central and southern parts are hilly or mountainous. Hear the buzz of lively conversations in the streets, and enjoy the lovely and diverse landscape with mountains, plains and rivers. Serbians are often laid back, best summarized in the phrase nema problema—no problem!  But don’t be surprised that Serbs are also outgoing and talkative, always ready to share their culture.

Thanks to its eventful history, Serbia has a variety of cultural and architectural monuments –medieval monasteries with their fresco paintings and icons, beautiful mosques, medieval and Austro-Hungarian fortresses, baroque churches. Serbian culture has a very rich folklore, which consists of national traditions and customs, traditional costumes which differ from one region to another, folk dances, and songs.

Study abroad in Serbia Host a Serbian student in the U.S.

Serbian People and Community

AFS Students in Serbia

In Serbian culture, family is very important, and by “family,” Serbs often include grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. An average family usually consists of the parents and two children, though there are many single-parent families. The patriarchal tradition has left its traces, so it is also common to see three generations living under one roof in perfect harmony. Many children remain living with their parents until marriage, but it is also the custom to take care of one’s parents when they get old. For many people in Serbian culture, it is unthinkable to put parents in nursing homes.

Usually both parents work, and their working hours may be from 8a.m.–4p.m., or 9a.m.–5p.m. or even longer. Even though men and women are equal, most housework is done by women, while men oversee house repairs, car maintenance and other “rough” tasks. Children are expected to keep their room tidy and help with household chores. They may be expected to vacuum the home or part of it, take out the rubbish, set the table, or do grocery shopping.

Language and Communication Styles in Serbia

AFS Students in Serbia

The official language is Serbian, the only European language that actively uses two alphabets—Cyrillic and Latin.

Serbian Food

Sarma in Serbia

Serbian food is a mix of Turkish, Greek, and Hungarian ingredients and flavors. Meat (chicken, lamb or pork), vegetables, potatoes and rice make a daily menu in Serbia. Bread is commonly eaten with other dishes, like the popular sarma, stuffed cabbage rolls, ćevapiand pljeskavica—traditional minced meat dishes.

Breakfast includes bread, butter, jam or honey, cheese, kajmak and ham, but on weekends it may also include cheese pies, corn cakes or goodies from the bakery.

Lunch has traditionally been the main hot meal. This is changing however, due to the fact that both parents work and the family gets to eat together at midday only on week-ends. Many traditional dishes combine meat and vegetables cooked together, while a typical Sunday lunch, often taken with grandparents or other relatives, will consist of a soup, meat, vegetables, salads and a dessert. Serbs don’t eat much fish and if they do, it is more likely to be fresh-water fish than sea fish.

Supper is often eaten rather late, 8 p.m. or later. It may be a cold meal – sandwiches, salads, cold cuts, or a simple hot meal such as a pie, pizza or pasta.

Explore the Programs Available in Serbia