Hot Serbian Summer: 8 things to survive the heat in Serbia

Hot Serbian Summer: 8 things to survive the heat in Serbia 1

Hot Serbian Summer: 8 things you need to survive the heat in Serbia

Welcome to my blog for Serbian language learners. It contains free Serbian lessons and articles about Serbia and its lifestyle. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

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:


  1. 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.

  3. 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.

  5. 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.

  7. 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.

  9. 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!

  11. 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.

  13. 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!

  15. 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.

Recent Posts

Ordering Food in Serbian: Practical Tips to Sound Like a Native

Ordering Food in Serbian: Practical Tips to Sound Like a Native 2

Photo: Restoran Srbija

Ordering Food in Serbian: Tips for Asking What You Want Like a Native

Welcome to my blog for Serbian language learners. It contains free Serbian lessons and articles about Serbia and its lifestyle. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

After you’ve learned how to greet people in Serbian and how to say goodbye, don’t go to another Serbian restaurant without reading these practical tips on asking what you want and ordering food in Serbian!

The summer is approaching, and I’m sure many of you have already planned your holidays in Serbia. For that reason, I believe this is the right moment to help you avoid “the textbook trap” and make sure you won’t sound weird in Serbian restaurants, cafes and shops.

[I recommend reading on a big screen for comparing the two languages in two columns. On mobile, scroll down for Serbian.]


Many web sites and text books advise you to use expressions “I would like…” and “May I have…” when ordering food in Serbian. If you use these expressions, you will definitely be understood in Serbian restaurants and cafes. You will sound polite, but quite weird.

Because many things that you’ll find in textbooks and tourist manuals, are actually never used in real life.

Reflecting our mentality, our language is straightforward and direct. We rarely use elaborate sentences that don’t actually mean exactly what they say (except if we’re politicians, of course). To be polite, we simply use the plural form of you (Vi) to speak formally and we say exactly what we want.

When the waiter says “May I help you”, we will simply shoot our order in accusative – given that we already know what we want. We don’t even say “Please” when ordering food in Serbian. That would be just too kind for a simple order.

– May I help you?
– A coffee.
or: I will [have] a homemade coffee.
or: To me a homemade coffee, and for my wife a cappuccino.

If we go to a place regularly and we know the waiter well, we might be very informal and say:
– Give me one beer.
(Or anything we want, in the accusative case.)

Saying this, we’re not being impolite, only friendly. The polite variant requires us only to speak in plural to the waiter:
– Give [you plural] me one coffee.

This is also how we ask for our bread and burek at a bakery:
– Give me one bread and two bureks with cheese.

Or as we typically say:
– Do you have burek with cheese? Give me two.

At the farmers’ market, you can ask:
– How much is your tomato? Give me a kilo.

If you’re at a luxury restaurant and want to be nice, you might say:
– Please, a short espresso and a “squeezed orange” [meaning: freshly squeezed orange juice].

The logic behind this is that you don’t have to be too polite if you’re asking for something simple or something you’re paying for.

So, the super-polite “May I have…” is used for additional requests. Like when you need something after the waiter had already served you:
– Excuse me, can I have another glass of water?

We also need to be extra nice when we have an “out-of menu” request, like for example:
– Can I ask you one teaspoon for my son?


Mnogi sajtovi i knjige vas savetuju da koristite izraze „Voleo bih…“ i „Mogu li dobiti…“ kada naručujete hranu na srpskom. Ako koristite te izrazre, sigurno će vas razumeti u restoranima i kafićima u Srbiji. Zvučaćete ljubazno, ali prilično čudno.

Zato što se mnoge stvari koje ćete naći u udžbenicima i priručnicima za turiste zapravo nikada ne koriste u stvarnom životu.

Naš jezik je prilično otvoren i direktan, što odražava naš mentalitet. Retko koristimo razvijene rečenice koje zapravo ne znače tačno ono što kažu (osim ako smo političari, naravno). Da bismo bili ljubazni, jednostavno koristimo drugo lice množine (Vi) i kažemo tačno ono što hoćemo.

Kada konobar kaže „Izvolite“, jednostavno ćemo ispaliti porudžbinu u akuzativu – pod uslovom da već znamo šta hoćemo. Ne kažemo čak ni „Molim“ kada naručujemo na Srpskom. To bi bilo previše ljubazno ja jednu običnu porudžbinu.

– Izvolite?
– Jednu kafu.
ili: Ja ću domaću kafu.
ili: Meni jednu domaću kafu, a za moju ženu kapućino.

Ako redovno odlazimo na neko mesto i dobro poznajemo konobara, možemo biti vrlo neformalni i reći:
– Daj mi jedno pivo.
(Ili šta god da želimo, u akuzativu.)

Kada tako kažemo, nismo neljubazni, samo se ophodimo prijateljski. Ljubazna varijanta zahteva samo da konobaru govorimo u množini:
– Dajte mi jednu kafu.

Na isti način tražimo hleb i burek u pekari:
– Dajte mi jedan hleb i dva bureka sa sirom

Ili kako tipično kažemo:
– Je l’ imate burek sa sirom? Dajte mi dva.

Na pijaci ovako možete tražiti:
– Pošto vam je paradajz? Dajte mi kilogram.

Ako ste u luksuznom restoranu i želite da budete fini, možete reći:
– Molim vas, jedan kratki espreso i ceđenu narandžu.

Logika koja stoji iza ovoga je da ne morate biti previše ljubazni ako tražite nešto jednostavno ili nešto za šta plaćate.

Tako se superljubazno „Mogu li dobiti…“ koristi za neke dodatne zahteve. Kao kada vam treba nešto nakon što vas je konobar već poslužio:
– Izvinite, mogu li dobiti još jednu čašu vode?

Takođe treba da budemo posebno fini kada imamo neki zahtev „van menija“, kao na primer:
– Mogu li da vas zamolim za jednu kašičicu za mog sina?

9 Practical Tips for Ordering Food in Serbian

Ordering Food in Serbian: Practical Tips to Sound Like a Native 3
  1.  Say “dobar dan” or “zdravo”, or repeat whatever the waiter has said to you.
  2. Get the waiter’s attention with “Izvinite” (Excuse me). When he/she answers, just ask what you want.
  3. Start a request with “Mogu li dobiti” (May I get). That sounds very polite: “Mogu li dobiti jelovnik?” (Can I get a menu?)
  4. Avoid adding “Molim vas” (please). It sounds fake in the same sentence with “mogu li”.
  5. “Šta biste preporučili?” (What would you recommend?) – a useful question if you want to avoid staring at a menu.
  6. Tell your order in the accusative case, adding -u for feminine gender (jednu kafu i koka-kolu), and changing nothing for masculine (jedan vinjak) or neuter gender (jedno pivo).
  7. Ask for your bill: “Možemo li da platimo?” (Can we pay?)
  8. The waiter will probably hesitate when giving you your change. He’s actually asking you for a tip. You can then approve him not give you your change by saying: “U redu je.” (It’s ok).
  9. Say thank you and goodbye when leaving: Hvala, prijatno

Ordering Food in Serbian:  a Typical Dialogue

Here I’ll share with you a helpful tool for ordering food in Serbian: below you can read a typical dialogue my husband and I have with a waiter. Usually, at our favorite restaurant on the Sava river in Mačvanska Mitrovica: Splav Krug.


Waiter: Hello! May I help you?

My husband: Just a second, to see what we’ll [have]

Waiter: (Gives us menu) Of course. Something to drink, while you’re waiting?

Me: (To my husband) What will you [have]?

My husband: I’ll [have] a drought beer.

Waiter: Big one (a pint)?

My husband: Yes.

Ja: (To the waiter) Do you have dark beer?

Waiter: We do, Nikšićko and Guinness.

Ja: To me one dark Nikšićko, small.

After 10 minutes…

Waiter: Have you decided?

My husband: Yes: one gourmand hamburger, one regular hamburger and a tomato-cucumber-cheese salad. 

Waiter: (Checking his order) One gourmand hamburger, one regular, one tomato-cucumber-cheese salad.

My husband: (Nods) Yes.

Me: Also, a small plate and a small fork for him (showing my little son), if it’s not a problem.

Waiter: Of course.

Me: Thank you.


Konobar: Dobar dan! Izvolite?

Moj muž: Samo malo da vidimo šta ćemo!

Konobar: (Daje nam jelovnik) Naravno. Nešto za piće, dok čekate?

Ja: (mužu) Šta ćeš ti?

Moj muž: Ja ću točeno pivo.

Konobar: Veliko?

Muž: Da.

Ja: (Konobaru) Imate crno pivo?

Konobar: Imamo, Nikšičko i Ginis.

Ja: Meni jedno crno Nikšićko, malo.

Nakon 10 minuta…

Konobar: Jeste odlučili?

Moj muž: Jesmo: jednu gurmansku pljeskavicu, jednu običnu pljeskavicu i šopsku salatu.

Konobar: (Proverava porudžbinu) Jedna gurmanska, jedna obična, jedna šopska.

Moj muž: (Klima glavom) Da.

Ja: I jedan tanjirić i malu viljušku za njega (pokazujem na mog malog sina), ako nije problem.

Konobar: Naravno.

Ja: Hvala.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these tips and that this article will help you ask what you want with confidence and feel comfortable when ordering food in Serbian.

Remember: if you’re unsure how to ask, just say what you need in the accusative case. But you can always add a “molim vas” (please), just in case. It will probably make you feel better, even if it won’t make you sound naturally Serbian.

In this way, you will enjoy your food completely, knowing that you’ve ordered it the Serbian way, and politely.

Easter in Serbia: Revealing the Diglossic Holiday

Easter in Serbia: Revealing the Diglossic Holiday 4

Easter in Serbia: the Diglossic Holiday

Welcome to my blog for Serbian language learners. It contains free Serbian lessons and articles about Serbia and its lifestyle. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

Easter in Serbia is a very fun experience. We boil and color eggs, usually on Good Friday. There are traditional methods, involving plants, wax and onion peels, and then there are the modern dyes and stickers. We use different methods because the Easter eggs in Serbia must be multicolored.

Watch this video about how we color eggs for Easter in Serbia. It’s in Serbian, so don’t forget to turn on the English captions, if you need.

The first red egg is the “čuvarkuća” (house guard). We put it on a shelve to guards our home until the next Easter, when it’s replaced. Then on Easter, we use the colored eggs in a jolly competition: We crack them, and the strongest egg wins!  

There is also a special greeting we use on Easter only, and it’s similar to the Christmas greeting. But the Easter greeting is a bit controversial. And I bet you’ve been unsure how to say it correctly.

I wrote about why we have this linguistic vacillation in my article that was first published in the “American Srbobran” on April 3, 2019. Here I’m sharing it with you entirely:    


The Diglossic Easter in Serbia

[I recommend reading on a big screen for comparing the two languages in two columns. On mobile, scroll down for Serbian.]

There are two words that people in Serbia use to refer to Easter: Uskrs and Vaskrs. There are two forms of the verb to resurrect as well: uskrsnuti and vaskrsnuti. To make it more complex, the official terms of our church are Voskresenije and voskresnuti.

All these forms reflect the diglossia that Serbs have had for centuries. On one side we have the vernacular Serbian, with oral tradition and folk literature. On the other side we have Old Church Slavonic, as the first literary and liturgical Slavic language, with written tradition. It had different recensions, created as the writers incorporated elements of their vernacular into it. The Serbian Church had used Serbian recension of Church Slavonic (Serbo-Slavonic) ever since the Serbs took Slavic literacy in the 10th century.

In the second half of the 18th century, when the Serbs fled from the Ottomans and settled in Vojvodina, the Russian influence became strong. As Russian books were used by the Serbs in Austro-Hungarian Empire, Serbo-Slavonic was replaced by the Russian recension of Church Slavonic (Russo-Slavonic).

That’s how a new language came into use: Slavonic-Serbian. It was a mixture of Russo-Slavonic with Serbian vernacular. This sublime language came out of use in the Romantic era, as the vernacular language became official and the writing system was reformed. However, Russo-Slavonic remains to this day the official language of our church.

For this reason we have the vernacular expressions Uskrs and uskrsnuti that belong to the modern standard, as well as Serbo-Slavonic Vaksrs and vaskrsnuti, that is used among the people, and Russo-Slavonic Voskresenije and voskresnuti, that is used by our church.

The Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates Easter on April 28th this year. On this day we crack eggs we colored on Good Friday and greet each other with a special greeting that celebrates the dogma of resurrection: „Christ is risen!” And answer: „Truly he is risen!“

There is the Serbo-Slavonic variant of this greeting: „Hristos vaskrse“ – „Vaistinu vaskrse“.

And there is the Russo-Slavonic variant of it: „Hristos voskrese“ – „Vaistinu voskrese“.

The modern Serbian form of this greeting would be: „Hrist uskrsnu“ – „Zaista uskrsnu“; but it’s never used.

Since the common people are not familiar with the church language, you’ll hear other irregular variants of the greeting: „Hristos vaskrs“; „Hristos vaskrese“, „Hristos voskrse“.

So, how to greet your family on Easter in Serbia? Here’s my advice: if you are the first to greet, choose one of the correct forms „Hristos vaskrse“ or „Hristos voskrese“ and add: „Happy Easter!“ But if you are answering, choose the same form the other person used and be polite, even if that means using the wrong form: „Vaistinu vaskrs“, „Vaistinu vaksrese“, „Vaistinu voskrese“.

Let’s spread love and respect, rather than the linguistic correctness, on this great day that is in some places in Serbia still called Veligdan (The Great Day).

Dve su reči koje ljudi u Srbiji koriste za ovaj praznik: Uskrs i Vaskrs. Takođe imamo i dva glagola: uskrsnuti i vaskrsnuti. Da stvar bude još složenija, zvanični termini naše crkve su Voskresenije i voskresnuti.

Svi ovi oblici odražavaju diglosiju koju Srbi vekovima imaju. S jedne strane imamo narodni srpski jezik, sa usmenom tradicijom i narodnom književnošću. S druge strane imamo staroslovenski, kao prvi književni i liturgijski jezik, sa pisanom tradicijom. Taj jezik je imao različite recenzije, nastale tako što su pisci u njega ugrađivali elemente svog narodnog jezika. Srpska crkva je koristila srpsku recenziju staroslovenskog (srpskoslovenski) otkako su Srbi primili slovensku pismenost u 10. veku.


U drugoj polovini 18. veka, kada su Srbi pobegli od Osmanlija i naselili se u Vojvodini, Ruski uticaj je ojačao. Kako su Srbi u Austrougarskom carstvu koristili ruske knjige, srpskoslovenski je zamenila ruska recenzija staroslovenskog (ruskoslovenski).

Tako je jedan novi jezik došao u upotrebu: slavjanoserpski. To je bila mešavina ruskoslovenskog sa srpskim narodnim jezikom. Ovaj uzvišeni jezik je izašao iz upotrebe u eposi romantizma, kada je narodni jezik postao zvanični, a pravopis reformisan. Međutim, ruskoslovenski je do danas ostao zvanični jezik naše crkve.

Zbog toga imamo narodne izraze Uskrs i uskrsnuti, koji pripadaju modernom standardu, kao i srpskoslovensko Vaksrs i vaskrsnuti, koje se koristi u narodu, i ruskoslovensko Voskresenije i voskresnuti, koje koristi naša crkva.


Srpska pravoslavna crkva ove godine slavi Uskrs 28. aprila. Na taj dan lupamo jaja koja smo obojili na Veliki petak i pozdravljamo se naročitim pozdravom koji proslavlja dogmu uskrsnuća.

Postoji srpskoslovenska varijanta ovog pozdrava: „Hristos vaskrse“ – „Vaistinu vaskrse“.

A postoji i njegova ruskoslovenska varijanta „Hristos voskrese“ – „Vaistinu voskrese“.

Na savremenom srpskom jeziku, ovaj pozdrav bi glasio: „Hrist uskrsnu“ – „Zaista uskrsnu“; ali to se nikad ne koristi.

Pošto narod ne poznaje crkveni jezik, čućete i druge nepravilne varijante ovog pozdrava: „Hristos vaskrs“; „Hristos vaskrese“, „Hristos voskrse“.

Dakle, kako ćete pozdraviti svoju porodicu na Uskrs u Srbiji? Evo mog saveta: ako pozdravljate prvi, izaberite jednu od dve ispravne forme „Hristos vaskrse“ or „Hristos voskrese“ i dodajte: „Srećan Uskrs!“ Ali ako odgovarate, izaberite istu formu koju je druga osoba upotrebila i budite ljubazni, i ako to znači da ćete upotrebiti nepravilan oblik: „Vaistinu vaskrs“, „Vaistinu vaksrese“, „Vaistinu voskrese“.

Hajde da širimo ljubav i poštovanje, pre nego jezičku ispravnost, na ovaj veliki dan, koji se ponegde u Srbiji još naziva i Veligdan.

New Year Traditions in Serbia – Why We Celebrate Twice

New Year Traditions in Serbia - Why We Celebrate Twice 5

2 New Year Traditions in Serbia: Why We Celebrate Twice


Welcome to my blog for Serbian language learners. It contains free Serbian lessons and articles about Serbia and its lifestyle. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

If you ever dreamed of celebrating Christmas and New Year twice, Serbia is the best place for that. Did you know that we have double holidays in Serbia? Two Christmases and two New Years. What do you know about Serbian Christmas and New Year traditions in Serbia?

When I was a kid, we used to write postcards. And now we write emails, but the text is more or less the same:

Srećni božićni i novogodišnji praznici

Meaning: “Merry Christmas’ and New Year’s holidays” – because there are many holidays around our Christmases and New Years.

In this video you’ll learn what are Christmas and New Year traditions in Serbia. Find out why we double-celebrate and how to wish your friends a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year in Serbian.

2 Christmas and New Year Traditions in Serbia

[transcript of the video]

Have you ever wondered why we have two Christmases and two New Years in Serbia?

I’m Magdalena from Serbian Courses, and in this video I’ll explain our a bit strange tradition to double celebrate Christmas and New Year in Serbia.


The two calendars

It all starts with calendars. We basically have two calendars. The new calendar or Gregorian (novi ili gregorijanski kalendar) is used in the entire state. And the old calendar (stari ili julijanski kalendar) is used by our church. That’s why we refer to the old calendar as „pravoslavni“ (orthodox) whereas we would refer to the new calendar as „katolički“ (catholic).


Religion in Serbia

Serbia is predominantly orthodox country. If you look at the data at Wikipedia, you’ll see that 85% of population are orthodox, and five percent are catholic. However, these 5 percent are concentrated in North Serbia, in Vojvodina. And in Vojvodina it’s very typical that in various cities both catholic and orthodox Christmases are celebrated.


The dates of Christmas and New Year holidays in Serbia

Between the two calendars we currently have 13 days of difference.

The Catholic Christmas (katolički Božić) is celebrated on December 25 (dvadeset petog decembra).

The Orthodox Christmas (pravoslavni Božić) is celebrated 13 days later, on January 7 (sedmog januara).

New Year’s Eve is celebrated on December 31 (trideset prvog decembra).

Orthodox or Serbian New Year (Pravoslavna ili Srpska nova godina) is celebrated on january 13 (trinaestog januara).


Holiday contradiction in Serbia: Catholic New Year and Orthodox Christmas

Since the vast majority of citizens in Serbia are orthodox, the Orthodox Christmas (on January 7) is the biggest or the most celebrated holiday, whereas the entire country will celebrate December 31 as New Year.

Why is this so?

Because Christmas (Božić) is a very traditional holiday and people started celebrating New Year’s Eve on December 31 after the World War 2.

Celebration of the New Year on December 31 started with communism and it’s not a religious holiday.

It’s a party that we celebrate with our friends. Whereas Christmas is religious, traditional and it’s all about family.


Christmas and New Year traditions in Serbia

For New Years Eve we say doček Nove godine, which means like ‘waiting for new year’. Because we’re waiting for it to come.

For Christmas Eve we say Badnje veče.


For Christmas we also have badnjak, which is a branch of an oak tree, usually.

And for New Year we have novogodišnja jelka – we don’t say Christmas tree, it’s „New Year’s tree“ for us.


For Christmas we have Božić Bata (Christmas Guy) bringing presents to the children.

And for New Year’s eve we have Deda Mraz (Santa Claus or „Grandpa Frost“, as we put it.)


As you can see, Christmas and New Year in Serbia are two different traditions. Božić is orthodox and religious and traditional, whereas New Year is new, and it’s all about friends and partying.


Since the businesses in the country and the State itself use the new calendar, December 31 is considered the end of the old year and the January 1 is considered the beginning of a new year, together with the entire Western World.

And January 13 is Serbian or Orthodox New Year and it’s less celebrated. It is also celebrated, celebration is the same (you party with your friends, you have the New Year’s tree) but less people celebrate on that date.


How to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Serbian

For the Catholic Christmas you will simple say: „Srećan Božić!“

The tradition of the Orthodox Christmas is to say „Hristos se rodi!“ (Christ was born). And the answer to this is „Vaistinu se rodi!“ (Indeed he was born).


How to wish a happy new year? We simply say: „Srećna Nova godina“ (happy New Year). And you can also say „Sve najbolje u novoj godini“ (I wish you all the best in the new year).


In the end, I’ll wish you a happy new year in Serbian:

Srećan vam Božić i srećna Nova godina! Želim vam sve najbolje u novoj godini!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I wish you all best in the new year!

Recent Posts

Typical Serbian gifts: How to be a good guest in Serbia

Typical Serbian gifts: How to be a good guest in Serbia 6

Typical Serbian gifts: How to be a good guest in Serbia

Welcome to my blog for Serbian language learners. It contains free Serbian lessons and articles about Serbia and its lifestyle. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

People talk a lot about how Serbs are good hosts. They like their guests, they are welcoming and friendly, etc. But do you know how to be a good guest?

There are actually unwritten rules what we do as guests. There are usual gifts that are common for people of certain age and in different situations. In this video you’ll learn what’s expected from guests in Serbia and what are the most typical gifts we usually bring to our hosts.

[transcript of the video about the typical Serbian gifts]

Hello and welcome to the Natural Serbian course!

Ja sam Magdalena, and today I want to teach you how to be a good guest in Serbia.

People talk a lot about how Serbians are good hosts, how they like their guests, how they are welcoming and friendly, etc.

But, do you know how to be a good guest?

There are actually unwritten rules about what we do as guests. It’s typical that we bring presents to our hosts.

But what kind of presents? What are typical Serbian gifts?


The most typical gift in Serbia is coffee.

Dvesta grama kafe – 200 grams of coffee is the most typical present that we bring to our friends or relatives when we are going to visit them.

100 grams is too little, more than 200 grams is too much, like if you really want to show off, so 200 grams is the most normal thing to bring to your friends or relatives in Serbia.


Another typical Serbian gift is chocolate.

We also commonly bring chocolate, čokolada, or anything sweet. But mostly chocolate. If you want to show off, or to show extra style, you will bring bombonjera (a fancy sweet-box). Bombonjera is very stilish.


Different gifts are typical for women, men and children in Serbia

For your lady host, domaćica, you can bring some flowers.

For your male host you will bring a bottle of drink, usually rakija or wine – these are the most typical. If you know what your host likes to drink, that’s what you’ll bring. Or you’ll just grab what you have at home and bring that.

If there are children, you can bring them chocolate or sweets, but nowadays there are ever more conscious parents and conscious mothers that don’t like giving sugar to their children, so they will prefer to get fruit: voće – banane, jabuke, mandarine, any kind of fruit. That’s really beautiful and as a mother, I would prefer that.


Visiting an ill friend? Here’s how to show your care!

Fruit is a typical gift we bring to a sick friend. If you have an ill friend and you’re going to visit them, bring a lot of fruit with you, that’s what we do.


Pick an old-fashioned typical Serbian gift for elders

If the people that you’re visiting are old, if you’re visiting grandmas and grandpas, then apart from coffee and chocolate, you can also bring ratluk. Ratluk (in English: Turkish delight) is another typical gift.


If you’re visiting your friends in Serbia, now you know what to do and how to be a good guest and return their hospitality.

Bring some chocolate to your friends. If you’re coming to my home, please bring some fruit instead.


These are the general guidelines for picking typical Serbian gifts.

Of course, you can be creative and bring anything you know your friends will like just to show that you care.


If you liked the video, if you like the course, please show it! Share it with your friends who might benefit from it, and help me spread the word about the Natural Serbian course!

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Introductions in Serbian: NOT what your book taught you!

Introductions in Serbian: NOT what your book taught you! 7

Introductions in Serbian: NOT what your book taught you!

Welcome to my blog for Serbian language learners. It contains free Serbian lessons and articles about Serbia and its lifestyle. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

Learn all about the real-life introductions in Serbian: how to say what’s your name, how to introduce yourself and meet others in Serbia. How to say “nice to meet you” or “pleased to meet you”, and how to respond in Serbian language.


If you’re talking like this: Kako se zoveš? Ja se zovem … Moje ime je … – Please stop!

This is NOT a natural way of introducing yourself in Serbian! Please, do not ask others “Kako se zoveš”!

We don’t really ask “Kako se zoveš?” when we’re talking to adults!


Watch this video to learn how to say what’s your name in Serbian and how to ask others about their names. Also, how to start a conversation with a new girl or guy you’ve just met in Serbia.

/Transcript of the video/


Zdravo! Ja sam Magdalena. A ti?

This video is about introductions: how to introduce yourself and how to ask someone else about their name – how to say what’s your name in Serbian.



What your book taught you about introductions in Serbian

First, let’s see what your book taught you. „Kako se zoveš?“ is a question to ask about someone’s name, „What’s your name?“ or literally „How are you named?“

The verb zvati se means ‘to be named’. It’s the same like in Italian (mi chiamo) or in Spanish (me llamo), in French (je m’appelle), and so on.

„Kako se zoveš?“ is a question about someone’s name.



Possible answers to the question “what’s your name” your Serbian book gave you are these:

„Zovem se Magdalena.“ „Ja se zovem Magdalena“

„Moje ime je Magdalena“

„Ja sam Magdalena“


So, your book taught you three options to say your name in Serbian language: „Zovem se …“, „Moje ime je…“ and „Ja sam…“.


Well, first of all, this question „Kako se zoveš?“ or „A kako se ti zoveš?“ is a question we ask children. It’s a kid’s question. We don’t ask adults, grownups, or even teenagers „Kako se zoveš?“ – only little children.


The second option to answer, “Moje ime je…”„Moje ime je Bond, Džejms Bond.“

That structure is imported from the English language, I believe, and it’s not natural. We don’t ever use it. We never say „Moje ime je…“


It is possible that someone asks: „Kako je vaše ime?“ (How’s your name?) or „Vaše ime?“ But that is in formal situations, like in a hospital, a nurse could ask a patient „Kako je vaše ime?“, or in court. We don’t actually say „Moje ime je…“.


Another possible question: „A vi ste…?“ (And you are…?) or „A ko ste vi?“ (And who are you?) that would be sort of rude. In this way you’re saying „Who the hell are you?“ Even though it’s formal, it shows despise towards the other person.



How we actually ask what’s your name in Serbian language


So how do we actually meet other people? How do we ask what’s your name in Serbian? There are few possibilities when we are in the situation to ask someone about their name.


The 1st situation to use introductions

The first situation how we meet other people is that we normally meet others through someone else. You know, there’s someone you know and someone you don’t know, and that’s how you meet a new person. And what happens is that we just shake hands and say only our names. Only names!

  • Magdalena
  • and the other person says their name, and we shake hands
  • we can end with: Drago mi je.”


The 2nd situation to meet someone in Serbia

The second possibility, the second option is meeting someone in a train, which is a bit old-fashioned, like let’s say on a plane, or in a situation where you’re waiting with another person for something to end, and you just start a small talk with them. Or if you’re hitting on a girl!

How this happens? We never approach a person asking about their name. That’s rude, don’t do that!

What we do is that we actually start a small talk. For example, if you’re in a waiting room with someone, first you start a small talk with them, you comment on the weather, on waiting, or anything that’s irrelevant, anything that’s not personal. And then if the person is interested, they will answer, and you will start talking to each other, and then if it gets serious and you see that the other person is really interested in talking to you, you will stop and say: „O, nismo se ni upoznali!“ (Oh, we haven’t even introduced) and then a handshake, „Ja sam Magdalena“, and the other person says their name.


The 3rd situation to ask what’s your name in Serbian

The third situation where you can ask someone about their name is when you meet someone that you’ve already met before but you forgot what their name was. Then you will say: „Izvini, kako se beše zoveš?“ (I’m sorry, what was your name again?) In this sentence the word „beše“ shows that we know we’ve heard it before, but we forgot. That’s what the word „beše“ stands for.

And I’m not going to… all right, maybe I could explain a little bit of grammar. That’s one of the very rare situations when we use „imperfekat“ – that’s verb to be in imperfect past tense.


All right guys, so please do not ask other people „Kako se zoveš?“, it’s  kind of rude.

Instead, you should offer your name and a handshake. And the other person will accept your handshake and tell their name in return.

After that you can follow with „Drago mi je“. But if the other person first says „Drago mi je“, do not repeat that! Instead, you shouold say „Takođe“ (likewise) or „I meni“ (to me too).


Ending a conversation in the Serbian language

There are three other options I want to tell you about today:

„Drago mi je što smo se upoznali“, and you can add some words to that to emphasize and say:

„Baš mi je drago što smo se upoznali“

„Mnogo mi je drago što smo se upoznali“


These three variants of one phrase are used at the very end of our conversation, so when we’re leaving. We’ve met someone new, we’ve talked to them, we’ve spent some time together, and then we’re shaking hands and we’re leaving, and we say „Drago mi je što smo se upoznali, ćao, vidimo se, čujemo se“ and other things that you’ve learned in the previous video about saying goodbye.

So that’s how you actually introduce yourself and ask what’s your name in Serbian – or when you don’t ask others about their names.

Thank you for watching the Natural Serbian videos, if you find them useful, if you find this video useful, please share it with your friends on the social networks that you use.

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