Sve za Beba~All for Baby Traditions in Serbia 1

When I came to Serbia so many years ago,  I was in awe of the different traditions. Having wet hair and going out in any weather is inviting death as well as opening two windows at once that will bring the dreaded draft or promaja.

Enter the Bumbo Seat (Used worldwide…. but probably not in the Balkans) An infant seat that looks like it should be used in Bars from drunks who tend to fall off their stools.    But then, babies are like little drunks. Think about it!  They pee themselves, spill their drinks, vomit without warning, and there is no reasoning with them.

A month or so after my entrance to the Balkans I was taken by surprise. Visiting a friend who is a nurse in Serbia she fretted a bit when I sat her infant on my lap. She told me, Babies must not sit up or their hips can be damaged. I was so shocked. I had never heard this before. Not to mention, I had lots of experience in caring for infants from birth and none of them had ever had hip problems.

I questioned myself for a while wondering if I had lost my marbles and maybe this was a thing in the west and I was just unaware. But no, that wasn’t the case.  And in fact, they have seats called Bumbo made specifically for babies to sit in. !!! For real! Here is proof!

The hip problem is such a worry that mothers put a clothe wrap around the diaper that serves as a little brace to keep the babies hips secure.  That is worn til they are 6 months old.

NEW INFO!!! added 3/10/15 a day after the initial posting.

Here is the reason for the care of Serbian baby hips, and it is all in regional genetics. I had pondered this so many times.Finally answer that makes sense!

A kind reader was generous to share this info with me!

Former Yugoslavia had the second highest incidence of dysplasia of the hip in the world. It’s most probably genetic. Almost 10% of all babies in the 1970’s had hip dysplasia, mostly girls, so people are quite freaked out about it. It was not until the mandatory sonograms were introduced that this number was reduced.

Here is an online bit of research I found after having that helpful comment.

http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0370-8179/2009/0370-81790908402S.pdf

That was probably my first shock concerning what is thought  to keep babies healthy here in Serbia. The next one came along not too long after.

I will write about that one soon!

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Sveti Nikola~ Saints on Sunday

Taken directly from Wikipedia….He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day―St Nicholas Day (6 December, Gregorian calendar, in Western Christianity and 19 December, Julian calendar, in Eastern Christianity) ;[7] and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”. (End copy paste from Wiki.

It is celebrated twice a year. All of them maybe. I am unsure.In December this is a fasting slava. It is also celebrated in May. This is not a fasting slava. Much better food is served in my opinion. 🙂

This is our patron saint. Every family has one in Serbia. When it is your Saints day, it is the custom in Serbia and only Serbia, that you have a dinner and invite your friends.  They come at an appointed time. Most likely that you will be serving loads of people over two or three days.

I love this Saint and how he became one. Everyone should strive to be a secret giver.  Random or non-random acts of kindness are a great way to make life better. Giving is so much better than receiving.

Happy Sunday!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

No Bread Plates

Up on the left you can see my plate. My bread perched on the side of the plate. I just can let it sit on the table. This pic is from our Jan 6 Orthodox Christmas Eve dinner. Fish is common as it is a fasting day for Orthodox Christians. No Dairy or Meat.

Crumbs litter the table, bread sits on the naked tablecloth. I was a bit stunned by this at first, and I still try to perch my bread on the edge of the plate. It seems strange to me that it doesn’t have its own place to sit.

There is always a loaf of fresh backed bread at the bigger meal. It is sliced and everyone takes some as if it is a bit of daily communion. No one cares about the crumbs that scatter about.

The tablecloth is carefully removed and shaken outside after every meal. It makes the birds very happy.  🙂

Saints on Sunday~ Saint George

Once upon a time there was a blogger in the Serbian realm who I anticipated reading. The Real Housewife of Belgrade was a great story-teller. Funny and informative, and everyone loved her. I am sure they still do, but she has exited the great land of Serbia.

Her Sunday legacy was to write about  Churches she visited in her European travels. There were lots of Church on Sunday posts. And I loved that idea. I have done a few of them myself. But I wanted to use the idea and make it my own. I always felt a bit like a poor knock off.

Here’s the deal. I am Protestant.I miss going to church on Sunday.  And the Orthodox Christianity has the same God, but many different traditions. The church is freezing cold in the winter. I cannot understand anything. (The service are held in old Serbian. About 10% of the population of Serbia may understand.) so I don’t go.

FYI It is an old tradition like Catholics holding some of their Masses in Latin… All Masses were in Latin before the 1960’s. Thank God things have changed in the Catholic Church so people can hear the Gospel. I have no proof, but more people may attend if they could understand. That is just my Western brain thinking.

Since arriving here, learning about Slavas (dinners) and patron Saints of  families, I have wanted to learn more about the Saints. It is a new Christian education. I know the Bible fairly well. I went to a Christian college and even studied Hebrew for a better understanding. But the saints heralded  here are not in the Bible.

Enter my epiphany and self-education with Saints on Sunday posts!

We will begin with St. George. Why? Because I like that there is a dragon in the picture of this saint! I love dragons, but since I am a Game of Thrones fan, I can see how unwieldy they can be. Thus, slaying them was a must. 😦

 

Here is the story of St. George as per Wikipedia.  Yes, I did Copy/Paste!  😛

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_George_and_the_Dragon

According to the Golden Legend, the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place somewhere he called “Silene”, in Libya; the Golden Legend is the first to place this story in Libya as a sufficiently exotic locale, where a dragon might be found. In the tenth-century Georgian narrative, the place is the fictional city of Lasia, and the idolatrous emperor who rules the city is called Selinus.[8]

The town had a pond, as large as a lake, where a plague-bearing dragon dwelt that poisoned all the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene used to feed it two sheep every day, and when the sheep failed, they fed it their children, chosen by lottery. It happened that the lot fell on the king’s daughter, who is called Sabra in some versions of the story.[9] The king, distraught with grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.[8]

Saint-George by chance rode past the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain. The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint George fortified himself with the Sign of the Cross,[10] charged it on horseback with his lance, and gave it a grievous wound. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon’s neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash.[citation needed]

The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the people at its approach. But Saint George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptised, he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. “Fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children.” On the site where the dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease.[11]

Traditionally, the sword[12] with which St. George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, a name recalling the city of Ashkelon, Israel. From this tradition, the name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II (records at Bletchley Park), since St. George is the Patron Saint of England.

There is more to read on the Wiki site if you are interested. But I thought that would be sufficient!

I thought it was a decent story. Someday I will tell it to the Munchkin!

Happy Sunday Y’all!

Foreigner Follies~ Halloween edition

I had a wonderful Halloween this year. I was lucky enough to be invited to help with the local high school celebration. I met with the teacher and kids prior to the party to plan the activities and decor.

After a short day in the village and munchkin interruptions getting ready, I was an hour late to help decorate. I am nothing but impressively punctual. (This should probably be my first folly, but I will let it slide.)

Pumpkins carved and glowing  lit up the cafe. Black cat and skull silhouettes danced to the Halloween beats. People began to file into the party slowly while I had a chance to meet with some of the teachers.

The music was loud like that of a night club. It made conversation was a bit dodgy at times. But we all managed and I met some new peeps. 🙂

The other foreigner in town was invited as well and we were glad to be reunited. Spelling her name phonetically, Shu Sin Yen, was the bell of the ball. The young high school students (boys) were all about her.

One was very aggressive at asking her to dance, and she obliged the first time. But she is quite shy and was not keen on a repeat. This poor fellow, oozing with beer induced   determination,  wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Enter folly numero UNO!

I can see my friend is not wanting to be rude, but really doesn’t want to dance. She is too shy to tell this guy to bugger off leave her alone and she is also a teacher in town, so she must be polite.

I am just a foreigner who speaks the tongue of the parties origin, so I say to this guy in his native tongue, “Ajde mash bre!”.  Immediately, I got high fives from the other fellows. They were pleased and I started to question my words.

It was the wrong choice. I thought I was telling him just to leave. I have heard my father-in-law  among others and others saying it to hounding animals who keep begging for food and in other similar situations.

About a half an hour later, in a conversation with the doting bartender, I found out I have literally told him to “ef off!” This is not proper behavior for an adult school guest in my culture. (Somehow, I don’t think it is as damning in this culture, but I could be wrong.)

Games were played through the night and when they started bobbing for apples, I wanted my friend Shu to see this typical fall game. On my urging we walked over to watch.  Like with most of the activities, she had never seen it before. We gazed on at the first round of bobbing as two fellas went against the clock and each other to grab apples with their teeth in a bin of water.

Follie Number TWO.  

One guy was up for the next round and no one was going against him. They kept trying to pull some one in and no one would go. So they came to me. I didn’t really want to stick my head in and get soaked, but I also didn’t want to be a bad guest. Plus this was a game from my childhood so why shouldn’t I play. (Oh soo Many Reasons!)

I stand before the tub of bobbing apples and wait for the “GO!” I go all in and realize I am tall enough to practice scuba breathing but little else. I manage to get one apple, and after that, I feel as if I am just trying to drown myself. My height and bust size and stomach keep me from my goal of giving a competitive show… or so I thought.

When the minute is finally up, I feel the upper half of is totally soaked.I don my gnome hat and I look down at myself. The black bodice that I chose purposely to cover up my ample bosom has shimmied down. The shiny WHITE blouse is soaking wet and the leopard and lace print bra I am wearing is blaring through as if there is no shirt at all.

I may have just introduced and won the first wet T-shirt contest in Serbia at a high school event. CLASSY!

Fortunately, I haven’t enough sense to get all embarrassed and leave. I go to the bathroom. I fix the smeared  mascara and dab myself with paper towel.

For the next bit to make sense to Westerners…. FYI In Serbia, the sink and mirror area are often a shared space for men and women.

As I wipe myself off, the bartender comes in and asks if I am O.K. as he heads into a stall. I say I am fine. Just embarrassed. He says something like, “Don’t be, It was great!” with the kind of boyish grin that makes it all the more embarrassing.

I did have some lovely chats post game that made up for all the shameful incidents. I can’t call the entire night a bust, pardon the pun. But part of it was. 😉

Looking back on the evening I realize, I am certainly making a name for myself in this town, just not sure what it is.

I did find a blip from the Halloween festivities. If you want to see the great decorations and some of the great costumes click HERE!

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Halloween Obstacles in Serbia

Planning for an English Club Halloween party is proving harder than expected. It will largely end up being just a costume party. That is enough, and most of the fun anyway, right?  Keeping it simple is key.

Let me share the challenges I am up against. The decorations are the main issue.

I found that orange pumpkins aren’t so common. They are grown for feeding pigs. There are so many other options, that is really irrelevant. It is just shocking as massive fields are dedicated to these orange pumpkins in the U.S. for fall decoration and picture-taking purposes only!

The decorative brooms we use to decorate and symbolize a witches broom, is as common as sliced bread here. Here is a bit of irony: sliced bread isn’t so common. LOL Brooms are so different here, I could do a post on them alone!  I guess that will be my blog.

Costume ideas are often culturally different… for instance. In the U.S. twice I have gone as Gypsy because no one knows they exist. To us they are like unicorns. A.k.a. mythical story book creatures. It is a little like this M&M commercial.

 

Yet, the word in Serbian for Gypsy in Serbian is like saying the “N” word in the U.S. Roma is the proper word for these people.

The irony continues… The “N” word in Serbia is common. There are almost no black people here… only in cities. And the kids here that listen to American rap here the word and don’t understand how bad it is.  Who is gonna tell them? Maybe me? in this post. 🙂

Other costume issues are that things that are common costumes are possibly cultural reference that the kids here may not recognize. DIY (do it yourself) or home-made costumes don’t seem so common. But then again, maybe I am wrong. I am kinda new at this.

The food and drinks we would use back home aren’t even sold here. I doubt anyone here knows what candy corn are! In case you don’t, they are a super sweet chewy candy.

In the words of Wayne’s world, “Party on!”

or in the more recent and very popular…

 

Do you have any experience in putting on a Halloween party? Tell me about it!

 

 

 

 

You Know Your House is Serbian If….

Hi all! this is a repost of a blog I did last year. I think I am going to expand on it. But thought I may get some input if I posted again.

Opa Serbian Style

First of all, I know what you are thinking… Opa is something Greeks say. Well, you are right, but they also say it here. It’s a normal expression. I’ve taken it up myself. Serbs also do that circle dancing with both arms up in the air like you see in My Big fat Greek Wedding. Greece and Serbia, Pretty  similar in my opinion. Well, minus the beautiful blue-green  water.

Second. You might be thinking,,, Serbian Style?? What the French toast? Or you are Serbian, and you’re wondering where this is going. I got you.

This is my top 20 list of knowing you are living Serbian Style.

Here we gooo!

20. There is a red egg somewhere in your house. (Left over from Easter, ON purpose.)

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19. Vegeta is on your spice rack.

18. You know about village life.Image

17. You or someone you know still drives a Yugo or a car made by Zastava. (That is the company that became Yugo.)Image

16. Cervena, Plava, Bela, is the correct order of the colors.

15. You know what a Kinder Egg is.

14. You have a chair or couch  or both, that can convert into a bed.

13. You go to the store once a day to get bread. Really good fresh bread. Not sliced! and you put it in a bread box.

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12. The lightswitch for the bathroom (as well as the water heater) is just outside the door.

11. You have atleast 3 bottles of Rakija in your home.

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10. You have Slava celebrating remnants somewhere in your home.

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 They are left over from this:

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9. You have a huge space waster in your living room doubling as a china cabinet, closet, entertainment center, bookshelf, bar, etc…

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8.Your salt and pepper shaker is actually a salt and salt dispenser, because pepper is expensive. Also pictured are the typical European electric outlet and silverware drainer.

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 7. Dryer, What dryer.

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 6. Your washers directions are not in English.

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5. Your smallest drinking glasses are like little shot glasses, but they are for Rakija!

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4. Pictures around your home are actually needlepoint art your mom made and framed and/or a picture of the Serbian Royal family.

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 3. There is a Serbian flag somewhere in your home and possibly a picture of the Serbian Royal family. See pic with Rakija above.

 2. Your shoes are close to the front door. and you are wearing slippers (papuce).

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 1. There is a picture of Sv.Nikola or some other Saint in your home, somewhere.

ImageFeel free to let me know if I have missed anything vital by leaving a comment!

Dobar Dan!

Elementary School Easter Fair

Srecan Uskrs or Happy Easter Cards

I love kid made cards. They have so much more feeling and character.

 

This year Orthodox Easter and Protestant Easter are on the same Sunday.

There were a bunch of fun Easter goodies crafted by the children. Lots of sweet treats being sold, and some really cool art!

The atrium in the center of the school was pumping with techno beats. Body heat and radiators filled the room to excess. Children’s cheeks were flushed. The place was a mad house. Pack to the gills! I hope they did well!

I think this was my favorite craft of all… maybe tied with this one below.

What great imaginations, Thinking outside the box to create unique art! Brilliant!

The Balkan life….

Sometimes when I am in our village I have blogging ideas. I may be in the field, or stuck upstairs waiting for my Munchkin to wake up. Often I am with out pen and paper but the trusty IPhone is there willing and able with a note pad! I write my thoughts and now I am sharing them with you.

Notice the lady with the large heavy hoe. She is wearing the traditional Baba uniform. The Black skirt and stockings. The large wool sweater and probably an apron. The foot wear is like a thick rubber ballet shoe. Normally they are accompanied with thick homemade wool socks that cover the stockings. This is good for all types of work. Even working the land.