The Slava Celebration: A Private and a Public Matter
A family celebration named slava or krsna slava (celebration/glorification or christened celebration) is a unique custom within the tradition of the Serbian Orthodox Church, where each family annually celebrates its patron saint. Besides Christmas, slava represents one of the most important celebrations in the life of each family. Though its roots reach as far back as the medieval times, slava and its role in the family tradition were neglected and marginalized during the communist period of the Serbian history. With the revitalization of religion and especially the reaffirmation of the Serbian Orthodox Church at the end of the last century, slava regained its significance and recognition, and even exceeded the private family sphere. It is nowadays often used as an indicator of one’s nationality and status with little real connection to its authentic religious meaning and purpose. Additionally, this originally family custom has now become a celebration day for many public institutions, companies, and professional associations. This paper aims to present slava’s distinctive structure and features, as well as explore ways in which the transformation is related to the revitalization of religion and growing nationalism in transitional Serbian society.
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