Today is St. Nicholas, slava of our family.
Among Serbs, slava is the day when you honor your family' saint. If a family don’t have a saint, they they can chose one, call the priest and then the host receives the slava through the simple ceremony. From that day forward, you celebrate it as the protector of your family.
This is a very old custom, dating centuries back. The communists did a pretty good job of eradicating this custom, but in the last decade it’s starting to get back its ground. I was never too much of a believer, but I was baptised as a child and always respected the Ortodox church as well as customs that go with it.
We always had huge celebration. Usually, you call friends and relatives, some to lunch, some to dinner. On the day after (slava is celebrated for 2 days) you call other important people, like your wedding best man (unless he was a guest on the first day) and friends who celebrate the same day as you are. However, as far as I can remember, when my father took the honors over from the grandpa (who died some 15 years ago), we never called guests for dinner. We have a circle of very close family friends for lunch, that always stayed way beyond the dinner time. It has always been one of the greatest days of the year. Even when I moved to Belgrade, I never missed to come home and celebrate with my family.
In the morning, we cut the bread, sip some wine on it, taste the wheat with sugar and nuts and the celebration starts.
The slava passed to me now. Today, we did all the same, but instead went to dad’s grave. No guests, no celebration. Just a simple honoring of the saint and a lot of memories of the past slavas. Some of our friends celebrate St. Michael the Archangel (Nov 21st) and they were fortunate to celebrate it before my dad’s accident. Most of our friends celebrate the same day as we are or the St. John (Jan 20th). All said that it will never be the same without Časlav. My dad always knew how to live up the talks around the table, knew how to talk with anyone, even people he barely knew, talk like they are life long friends.
Instead of laughs and cheers, I now listen to silence. Such is life. Next year, I will hopefully host the celebration.