Reposted from my old blog Chronicles of Serbia at Blogspot with a few added comments.
While living in Serbia, I have found that many ideas are reminders of the past, the region you live in, and the fact that “old wives tales” are strongly followed world-wide.In the US we ” knock on wood” to ward off a bad thing from happening when mentioned it, or throw a pinch of salt over our left shoulder if a bit is spilled. Here are some of the traditions followed by some Serbians to keep their babies safe from the “evil eye” or the like.
All of these were told to me, by my native Serbian friends, feel free to correct anything that my be different in your region. I love to hear variations!
A red string is tied around the babies wrist to ward off sickness as well as at least one item of inside out clothing, usually underwear.
Babies are kept inside for a little while because too many people looking cause them to get sick. This idea is not only for babies, but infants seem to be the most vulnerable.
I have been the victim of this kind of thought as well. I got sick after a wedding and my mother in law and her friend wanted to make sure I wasn’t under the influence of the evil eye. They thought too many people were looking at me because I was an American. They were inclined to put a hot coal straight out of the fire in a cup of water and touch my forehead with the water. My husband put a stop to this when I started freaking out. We had a good time calling his mom a “witch doctor” for a few weeks after that.
Epidurals are thought to be dangerous, and not good for labor. I assure people I talk with that is not true. I have had two. One for a knee surgery and one for the delivery of my little girl. I could still tell when to push. Millions of babies are delivered this way. It is completely safe.
Things believed to help you have healthier babies:
Sitting on the ground, or walking barefoot could ruin your eggs so these things should be avoided. I am guilty of both of these things, I love to walk barefoot, inside and out. and my mother in law has a fit! She loves me and want the best for us, and I love her for it. It is a nuisance sometimes though. I don’t want to wear shoes or papuche (slippers) all the time. And at the ripe old age of 40, after years of not following these rules I was blessed with a healthy baby girl.
It is also believed that babies should not be sat up before they are 6 months old. They think it can ruin the hips, but here it is encouraged. Babies all over Yugoslavia are subject to wearing hip braces for a while to keep their hips from developing problems. When I tell my Serbian friends that we always sit our babies up, from birth, many of my friends were shocked.
While our munchkin was under six months old, thank God we were in America. But friends who saw her on skype were shocked she wasn’t kept laying flat. I explained it isn’t good for a child to stay laying flat. No babies in the U.S. or most other countries follow that tradition, and they are just fine.The funniest thing I have heard was after a Slava. I was sitting in the kitchen with my two best Serbian girlfriends. We were comparing this kinds of stories. All of us burst into uncontrollable laughter when one of them told us how a distant Baba from her husband’s side of the family had asked here what sexual position they had used to produce their new baby boy. I think I have heard that idea here in the US a long time ago. I do not believe this is a Uniquely Serbian idea, just another old wives tale.
I was startled by many of the beliefs, but enjoy learning about them. it is really fascinating. Not long ago I watched a movie call “Babies”. Watch the Trailer here. This is more of a documentary movie that follows 4 babies for one year world-wide. The babies are from Japan, Mongolia, San Francisco, USA, and Africa. It was interesting to see what is acceptable world-wide and refreshing to see how resilient babies are. Ironically, the scariest thing I saw was in San Francisco.
I would love to hear from you on this subject. It is fascinating to me! Well pretty much all customs and beliefs world-wide are. It is the Social Scientist in me.