Hot Serbian Summer: 8 things you need to survive the heat in Serbia
Now that you’ve learned how to order in Serbian restaurants and cafes, you’re ready to come to Serbia. But not before you learn what’s the Serbian summer like and what are the best ways to fight the heat in a Serbia.
Serbian summer is short
By the end of May we’re looking forward to the summer, and at the beginning of September we realize that it’s already gone. It always feels short. Except when a warm September extends deep into October. That’s what we call „Miholjsko leto“ (Indian summer). It’s my favorite season.
Serbian summer is hot
To make it even worse, asphalt and concrete in the cities absorb and increase the heat. The hottest month is July. The highest temperatures measured are between 37 and 42 degrees Celsius. (That’s about 99 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit.) Summer in Serbia can be scalding hot.
At the same time, the temperatures in the mountains are about 10 degrees Celsius lower. (Between 82 and 93 Fahrenheit.) So we look for relief in the mountains or countryside, by rivers or lakes, and in parks. Luckily, every major city in Serbia lies by a river.
Letovanje, our summer vacation, is normally only 10-15 days long. Letnji raspust (summer holiday for school children) starts in June and ends on September 1st. That leaves us with three hot months we need to get through with idle children. Consequently, we had to develop tactics to cope with the climate.
8 things you need during summer in Serbia
Here are 8 ideas that will help you survive the heat of a Serbian summer, in cities and in the countryside. They’re the best if you combine them:
- Hladovina (shade). The word senka means simply ’shadow’. The word hlad or hladovina specifically describes a shade made by trees or walls that provides relief from the sun. It’s connected with the word „hladan“ (cold). When the shade is thick, we call it debela hladovina – „a fat shade“. Every house with a backyard in Serbia must have at least one tree with „fat shade“. That’s where we place our garden table and chairs during summer.
- Roštilj (barbecue). Make sure to place your fire away from your garden table. Otherwise, the smoke will spoil the enjoyment. Serbian men will grill their meat even in plain sun, even if they’re burning. It’s an important part of their manhood. Starting from Serbia’s Labor day, the 1st of May, and during the whole summer a tempting smell of grilled meat spreads in Serbian neighborhoods every Sunday. Barbecue is an inevitable part of any Serbian summer.
- Lubenica (watermelon). Watermelon must be well cooled. In the mountains, we use creek water for that. In villages, a well (bunar). A watermelon is simply placed in the creek so that the water flows over it and cools it down. If you have a well available, simply put a watermelon in a bucket and throw it into the well. Cool water will chill it in a few hours.
- Gajba piva (a beer crate). A creek and a well are used the same way to refrigerate your beer. And you’ll need a whole crate of beer for your Sunday barbecue. Even though doctors advise us not to drink alcohol in the sun, a well-chilled beer (hladno kao zmija – ’cold as a snake’) is something no one can resist in summer.
- Rakija. However, some people will insist that it’s best to drink rakija in the summer. They say beer makes you lose water too much and rakija helps you stand the heat. But of course, rakija is a known remedy for many troubles, as you know. You can try: just make sure to drink plenty of water with it!
- Bose noge (bare feet). Bare feet and half-naked men are a common sight in Serbia in summer. Especially at their homes and in their own backyards, Serbian men will walk in their shorts only. Feel free to „do as the Romans do“ – take your shoes and shirts off.
- Lavor (plastic wash bowl). A very useful thing, especially if there’s no creek or river near you. You can use it to soak your bare feet in the cold water. It’s a great way for cooling down. You can also let your child splatter in it. It will entertain her and make her happy. At least you’re not terrified of promaja!
- Kišobran (umbrella). You can use it as a sunscreen, but that’s not the reason I put it on this list. It’s because in a Serbian summer, you never know when it’s going to start raining out of the blue!
I hope you’ll find a good „fat shade“ in Serbia this summer. Debela hladovina with an ice cold beer in one hand and a book in the other while watching my child splash – that’s my priceless combination to enjoy the heat.