Over the weekend Marco’s sister’s family celebrated their annual Slava. This is a Serbian Orthodox tradition, which venerates the family’s patron saint. We were invited to a family lunch to celebrate the day. This year we are unable to attend their big Slava, that they will host for their friends. The date and day change every year, so if the family can’t make it to the big party, there is always usually a small family lunch.
I have been attending most of their Slava’s for nearly 10 years now and I always look forward to this special lunch. The last time I wrote about this celebration was in 2013 (on Live Blissful), so I thought it would be nice to give you guys a bit of a taste of what it’s all about.
Although I have been attending these celebrations for a long time I really don’t know much about it. I am not Serbian Orthodox and Marco doesn’t really follow the religion either. Similar to being an Italian Roman Catholic, you are kinda born into the religion, typically baptised when your little and it’s up to the individual to keep the faith going. I usually ask the same few questions every year and then we start talking about what we are going to eat. So I thought I would ask some questions to Marco’s sister, Maria directly so she can explain to you all about her Slava.
- Why do you celebrate Slava?
We celebrate it because it is Milan’s [my husband] family tradition and a great excuse to get together. Every slava or saint has a little story as to why people started celebrating them. People then like to make a big feast and invite friends and those people they go to slava to during the year.
- Who is your families patron saint?
Milan’s family patron saint is Saint Theodore. The date of the Slava is by the Orthodox calendar, which can change depending on when Easter will be.
- What are the rituals that you follow for your Slava?
We make the bread and zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and take it to the Serbian Orthodox priest, on the morning of the Slava. He blesses the food we made with red wine. After we spending the day with our closest family and friends and remembering the good that the particular evangelist did.
- What are some typical dishes served on Slava?
Typical dishes are sarma, pig or lamb on the spit, bob (broad bean paste), prebranac (baked lima beans), punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or anything really, there are no rules about that. If a Slava falls in one of the fasting periods in the year, the Easter or Christmas fast, then you have to eat and serve only vegan on that day but if not, you can serve anything you like. Our slava is during a fasting period so we can’t use any animal products, except fish. So we make similar dishes but veganised.
- Do you hope that your kids will continue celebrating your Slava?
We hope Stefan continues to celebrate with his own family when he is older. The girls can too if they wish, there are no specific rules about that.
- Can Marco and I pick a Saint and start our own Slava or is that against the rules?
- How many other Slava’s do you attend during the year?
We attend a few in a year, almost all our friends celebrate a Slava. The slava outside the fasting period is usually the best.
I hope Maria could shed some light on what a Slava is all about. So without further a due, this is the lovely lunch we attended. When we arrived my nephew bought out the zito (wheat). We each took a spoon full of this sweet wheat to eat as a blessing. You must return the spoon after, I don’t think you can double dip. The taste is pleasant but not really something I want to spoil my lunch over.
Later when all the food was ready it was all place on the table alongside the extremely tall Slava candle. I love Maria’s Slavas, since all the dishes are vegan. The stand out for me this year was the Potato Filo Pies, which I have never tried before. I always look forward to the Bob (broad bean paste). Sarma and Punjene paprike are dishes we eat alot with Marco’s family but usually served with mincemeat. The vegan versions are quite nice too. The salads were simple but great sides to accompany the mains. I didn’t have bread, since its a bit dense for me, but this was a favourite for all the kids. This year the only sweets were bliss balls, which were a nice sweet ending after a big meal. I don’t usually partake in the cake and prefer something like this instead on a hot day.
Do you celebrate Slava or have you attended one before?