One of the main characteristics of Serbian Orthodoxy, unique in the Christian world
is the Serbian Patron Saint Day. Before being converted to Christianity by Saints
Cyril and Methodius the Serbs were pagans. Besides having a main God whose name was
Perun, every Serb household had a domestic god. When the missionaries attempted to
convert the Serbs into Christianity, they found that the Serbs were most reluctant
to renounce their family protector. The missionaries had a solution: on the day that
one was converted and baptised,one accepted the Christian saint whose day it was
in the church calendar, and that saint became the new protector of the family.
The celebration of the Patron Saint Day - in Serbian ‘Slava’, has remained the only
continuous tradition of the Serbs from the time of converting to Christianity to
the present day. A lot has changed in public life and in customs, but the ‘Slava’
has been preserved as a great holiday in Serbian life. One can say the celebration
of the ‘Slava’ has preserved the Christian Orthodox faith and church traditions in
the Serbian people.
What is Needed to Celebrate Slava?
A few days before a household intends to celebrate their Patron Saint Day, the parish
priest is invited to perform the lesser blessing of water. The Holy water is used
as one of the ingredients to make the Slava bread.
To celebrate the Patron Saint Day it is important to have the following: the Slava
bread, a dish of specially prepared cooked wheat, red wine and a candle of pure bee
wax. These items are all brought to church on the day of the Feast day and they are
blessed by the parish priest.