Serbs - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Serbian Orthodoxy is the principal Religion of Serbia. However, holiday (rather than weekly) church attendance is the norm. Easter is the most important general religious holiday.

Religious Practitioners. In addition to the village priest and Western medical facilities, help may also be solicited from a vračara, typically an older woman.

Supernaturals. The saints are highly revered in Serbian Orthodoxy, and in Serbia each clan or lineage has its own patron saint from whom help may be solicited.

Ceremonies. The most important holiday in addition to the church calendar is the slava, or feast of the patron saint, held on the saint's day. Every family has a patron saint who is inherited through the male line. Formerly, these were lavish affairs often lasting three days.

Arts. Serbian culture is noted both for its traditional oral epic poetry, recited with an accompanying gusle (a singlehorsehair string instrument stroked with a bow), and its naive art painting movement.

Medicine. Modernization has meant increased access to Western medical facilities. Women now give birth in hospitals rather than at home. However, for some types of illnesses, help is still solicited from a vračar or vračara. Illness may be attributed to many causes, and self-diagnosis has been Important to the decision to seek help from a folk practitioner or Western-style physician.

Death and Afterlife. Peasant society readily accepts death as part of life, but in contrast to church theology its concept of the afterlife is more one of a continued life in heaven. Funerals are held the day after death. The dead continue to serve an important integrative function both in terms of Lineage recall and lineage solidarity. Large graveyard feasts traditionally are held one week, forty days, six months, and one year after the death.

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