Everything you need to know about celebrating Easter in Serbia​

By Danica Gómez Marković

Featured Everything you need to know about celebrating Easter in Serbia

Easter is one of the most celebrated religious holidays in Serbia. Since most people in Serbia are Orthodox Christians, traditions may vary from how Easter is celebrated in other countries. 

Therefore, let me tell you a couple of things you need to know about celebrating Easter in Serbia. These will come in handy especially if you’re planning on visiting Serbia during the Orthodox Easter.

Why are there two Easters?

Before we go into the juicy stuff, let’s clear out the doubts. In case you’re confused about Easter in Serbia being celebrated on a different day than in the US, for example, I will explain why.

The biggest religious community in Serbia is the Serbian Orthodox Church which uses the Julian calendar. This calendar differs from the Gregorian calendar which is in general use. This is why Orthodox Easter is usually celebrated on a different day.

However, most people in Serbia are familiar with the Western Easter celebration. This is due to the fact that Catholicism is the second biggest religion in Serbia and Serbia is close to other Christian countries in Europe that use the Gregorian calendar. In conclusion, there aren’t two Easters, only different churches using different calendars to celebrate the same holiday.

What to expect and what not to expect during Easter time in Serbia?

If you’re planning on traveling to Serbia, know that there might be more visitors and tourists during the holiday. This especially refers to the airports and border crossings, so be prepared for the crowds. It can also happen during the time of the Western Easter, since a lot of people are traveling in general. 

Something you might expect but won’t see during Easter in Serbia is egg hunting. Yes, Easter in Serbia is related to eggs, but there is no hunting and no Easter Bunny. Sorry.

Another thing you won’t see are processions. There are some church related events, but not the typical processions you can see in the western part of Europe.

Important events during Holy Week

Great Lent

Great Lent or Great Fast (Serbian: Veliki post) is a 40-day fasting period. Begins 40 days before Easter and finishes on Easter Sunday. Although somewhere fasting means not eating any food, in Serbia people usually avoid just foods of animal origin. Eating fish is allowed. A lot of people in Serbia fast during this period, but still most Serbians fast only on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Lazarus Saturday

The week before Easter Sunday is always preceded by Lazarus Saturday (Serbian: Lazareva Subota or Vrbica). If you go through the town, you’ll see children with little bells around their necks and willow branches in their hands (willow in Serbian: vrba – therefore, vrbica). They will probably have laurels on their heads, too.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, or in Serbian Cveti is a holiday related to flowers (in Serbian: cveće). On this day or the day before (Lazarus Saturday) you pick flowers, give them to others, make a laurel, a wreath or a bouquet. Traditionally, if you make a wreath you should hang it on the front door of your house. It should stay there until Easter.

Good Friday

Veliki petak means the time has come to dye eggs. In some parts of Serbia, however, you do it on Holy Thursday or Saturday. Either way, eggs are the central point of Easter in Serbia. There are different ways to dye them. You can use the actual dyes for eggs or the natural ones. 

The natural way of doing it is to cook eggs together with onion skins. First you place an interesting leaf or a flower onto the egg and find a way to make it stick. Usually people wrap it with old nylon stockings. It might sound weird to you, but it does the trick. Check out the end result. 

Also, there are egg stickers, markers, skins, you name it. People take a lot of pride in their Easter eggs and put effort into making them beautiful. And the more complicated the process, the more pride points and “wows” you get.

Easter Day

Everything you need to know about celebrating Easter in Serbia

It’s Uskrs! You wake up, find other people in your household and tell them: Hristos vaskrese! (tap for pronunciation) Or: Hristos voskrse (tap for pronunciation). Both are ok. They mean: Christ has resurrected.

If you’re too slow and the other person says it first, you should answer: Vaistinu vaskrse (tap for pronunciation) or vaistinu voskrse (tap for pronunciation). It means: he truly has resurrected. Pick whichever is easier for you. These phrases are part of church jargon, so you probably won’t use them anywhere but for this occasion. 

However, if you do use them properly you will really leave Serbian-speaking folk in awe. If it’s too difficult, you can always opt for saying: Happy Easter – Srećan Uskrs (tap for pronunciation). Although considering the lack of vowels in the word Uskrs the difficulty balances out. 

After these formalities, find Easter eggs. No worries, this is not about egg hunting. It should be fairly easy for you to spot dyed eggs on a dining table or similar. Once you see them, make sure to pick a strong one because egg cracking is about to begin. How is this tradition performed? Check the video below.

Don’t forget this is all about tradition and fun, so no hard feelings if you lose.

More on Easter in Serbia

Good news is that Good Friday and Easter Monday are both non-working days, so you and people around you can really enjoy this holiday. Many people look forward to egg cracking activities and the Easter Day lunch. But if you are hoping to go sightseeing around town, know that most places will be closed.

You are now all equipped with knowledge to spend Easter in Serbia. Still, if you want to know even more, check out our TalkIn’ Serbian Intermediate podcast episode about Easter. Here we inform you about different ways of celebrating Easter in Serbia and Spain. 

If you celebrate Easter in your country, are there some traditions we have in common?

Want to know more about the Serbian language?

Check out our blog and check what Serbian is all about.

Is there a way to learn Serbian that is less painfull?Maybe something more similiar to learning a mother tounge? Let's find out.

Do you feel there are some Serbian word that you always mess up? It's because they are plural! Let me help you figure them out in this post.

You do need a teacher to learn Serbian. But only the basics. Find out what to do after you complete your beginner course in Serbian.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top