Slava – Celebration of Family Saint Patron’s Day


Commemorative postage stamps

Year of issue: 2021

In stock

SKU: 801689 Categories: , ,


Saint George’s Day (Djurdjevdan)

Patron saint’s day (slava, baptismal name) is a holiday dedicated to a Christian saint when the family takes him/her as their patron and protector. The veneration of the holy protector among Serbs dates back to the time of Saint Sava. Today, the majority of the Orthodox in the territory of Serbia celebrate slava as an important holiday in which individual families and their guests – members of the extended family, spiritual relatives, neighbours and friends participate. As bearers of a unique Orthodox tradition, Serbs perceive slava as a way of expressing Christian and national identity.

It is customary for the family to go to church on the day of the slava, where the bearer of the slava – the feaster, usually the head of the household or the heir, lights the slava candle in the presence of the priest, who says prayers for health and blessing at home. The Lord’s prayer is read, the troparion to the saint is sung and the slava cake is cut, which must have the symbol ИС ХС НИ KA imprinted on it (“Jesus Christ wins”). The priest raises the cake, saying the words: “To the glory and honour of the Saint ...”, cuts the cake crosswise and pours wine on the place of the cutting. Then the cake is turned and broken into four parts while the priest congratulates the feaster with the words: “Christ amongst us”, and the feaster answers: “He is and He will be!”. The cutting of the cake can also be done in the family home, when there is a possibility for the priest to come to the house to cut the slava cake. An important part of the celebration of the patron saint is the slava feast – a festive lunch where the whole family, its spiritual and blood relatives and friends gather.

Slava is a vital element of the intangible cultural heritage of the Serbian people, and in 2014 it was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Djurdjevdan i.e. The Holy Great Martyr George is celebrated on 6 May. George was born in Asia Minor, in Cappadocia. He lived in the 3rd century and was a soldier of the Roman army in the guard of Emperor Diocletian. At the time of the persecution of Christians, he declared before the emperor that he was a Christian himself, which is why he was sentenced to severe torture and death by beheading. Until the 7th century, he was depicted exclusively as a soldier, standing or sitting, while later St. George was depicted on a horse, killing a dragon which symbolizes evil, with a spear. It is celebrated by Christians (Orthodox and Catholics), but also by Muslims, on the territory of the whole of Serbia, which is why in 2015 it was included in the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia.

Motif: on the stamp – Saint George killing the dragon; on the envelope – Saint George.

Expert assistance: Serbian Orthodox Church Museum, Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade.

Artistic realisation of the issue: MA Marija Vlahović, academic graphic artist.

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