Friday, December 19, 2008

Sveti Nikola or Saint Nicholas' Day

December 19th is Saint Nikola's Day, according to the Serbian Orthodox Church calendar. Each Orthodox Serbian family has a patron saint, and my late husband's is Saint Nikola. Serbs who celebrate St. Nicholas as their slava or "celebation," mindful that the holiday occurs in the midst of the Christmas-Advent Fast, observe the holiday in the traditional religious manner and, prepare only no-fat meals on this day. In the first photo you see a slavski kolač (SLAHV-ski KOE-lahcth)or "slava cake," which is like a large brioche. Along with this cake in the second photo, there is the "slava" candle, an incense holder and incense, an icon of Saint Nikola, a glass for wine, and "žito" (ZHEE-toe, cooked wheat berry mixed with nutmeg and sugar), which are the traditional offerings. The priest comes to the house to cut the cake, pour a little wine on top, and light the candle and incense. The custom is for people to drop by in the evening, wish the host "happy Slava," have a bit of refreshment, and perhaps move on to another family celebrating the same occasion.

17 comments:

Marianne said...

Srecna slava.

USelaine said...

What a beautiful tradition! Happy Saint Nikola's Day to you!

Virginia said...

I do so love reading about everyone's traditions The bread looks delicious!
V

Alexa said...

What a charming tradition, Bibi—and somewhat bittersweet for you, I imagine. So thank you very much for teaching us about it.

roentarre said...

Very nice images in deed!

Mihajlo said...

Srecna Paterice

Knoxville Girl said...

that is just lovely; thanks for opening a lens on your world!

babooshka said...

Another wonderful tradition from you adopted part of the world. Serbians strike me as being very family focused and neighbourly considering the turmoil there has been. The brioche type goodie looks delicious too.

Niccolina said...

Delightful, I am Serbian, however living now in the states. I have lost all my roots when it comes to Serbian traditions as i grew up in Sweden. My fiance is Belizean so it is very hard to try to learn about the Serbian culture as he is pushing towards the creole culture and his Christianity. I just hope that our children get to learn the beautiful aspects of the Serbian nature. It will be a struggle but I know it will be worth it.

Anonymous said...

Srecna Slava!

Branka

Ana said...

Srecna Slava

Tash said...

Srecna Vam Krsna Slava!
I thought about you yesterday & wondered when your Slava was. & here it is! My aunt (actually my dad's cousin's wife) also has St. Nicholas as her Slava. She made zito (we use ground walnuts, sugar & wheat) & baklava and I had some tonight. Zito is one of my favorites. My mother's is Sveti Arhandjelo Mihajlo.

Tash said...

PS I forgot to say what a wonderful Slavski Kolac you made.

humanobserver said...

must be delicious.....

Chuck Pefley said...

Bibi, thanks for sharing this tradition. That priest must be pretty busy making his rounds.

Marie Reed said...

That is really intersting. In Germany St Nick day is on the 6th....mmmnn slava cake!

Mirjana said...

Srecna Slava. Prelep ste kolac napravili i jako lepo ste sve to objasnili :)
Jeste li gledali film "Ivkova Slava"?