Red Letter Day In Serbia: The 2021 Complete Guide

What is a red letter day in Serbia? Why is it important in Serbian tradition? And what you should avoid during the “red letter” day? You will get answers to those questions in this blog post. 

Crveno slovo‘ (‘The red letter day’ ) is a term in the Serbian language that marks the day of the great Christian feast.

This expression comes from the ancient Serbian tradition, when many centuries ago in Christian calendars, the biggest holidays were written in red ink (other feasts are written in standard black ink). This tradition has remained even today.

If you visit any monastery or church in Serbia and if you purchase a religious, Orthodox calendar, you will see many feasts written in red. For this reason, the day of that kind of feast  is called “Crveno slovo’ (‘The red letter day’ ).  Currently, the Serbian Orthodox Church recognizes 38 “the red letters” days (without Sundays because Sunday is always written in red)


Why Is The Red Letter Day So Important?

The Red Letter Day is important because of the cultural patterns that are respected mostly in rural parts of Serbia.  According to the Serbian tradition, “the day of the red letter” as the day of the great religious feast is the day when all the hard physical works of every form should be avoided. According to the Serbian tradition, “the day of the red letter” is the day that should be dedicated to family, fasting, prayer, and going to church (although not every “red letter day” is a fasting day).



What Does That Mean?

This means that you will not see people working in gardens, fields, or any work on crops on a day of the red letter in Serbian villages. Also, you will not see Serbian women knitting, washing the clothes, crocheting, etc… If you ask a Serbian farmer to help you build a house or any work in the garden on “the day of the red letter,” be sure that he will refuse you kindly. However, the next day he is going to be the first one who will help you since the red letter day is over.


Common Religious Terms And Expressions In Serbia

Serbian Language English Translation
molitva prayer
krštenje baptism
liturgija liturgy
ispovest confession
post fasting
Bog God
prosvetitelj educator
sveštenik, otac, pop priest
manastir monastery,
crkva church
oltar altar
ikona icon
mošti relics
mauzolej mausoleum
hram temple,
svetac saint
Episkop, patrijarh bishop
Teizam Theism
Ateizam Atheism
Deizam Deism
Agnostik Agnostic
Ignostik Ignostic

If you want to dig deeper into Serbian religious terms, give up the dictionary immediately because it will not be helpful to you unless they are narrowly professional. However, the help of colleagues who have previously encountered this topic is irreplaceable, so I would like to provide my insights into the topic of the Orthodox Church, which I have been dealing with intensively recently.

The translation from Serbian into English about the Serbian Orthodox Church has caused several difficulties. In addition to the words that I heard several times in my mother tongue, there were also those that I did not meet personally, and most of which I never heard in English. One of them is the act of sinđela, which in English remained in the original Greek – synkellos or Latin form – syncellus. There is also the act of staurophore, which we translate stavrophore or, for example, the rite of ordination and ordination, which is chirotony in English.

red letter day

On the other hand, some words seemed familiar but had a completely different meaning than the one assumed. Thus, the Serbian Courtyard in Moscow is actually the Metochion of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Moscow, denoting a kind of religious embassy or representation. Or, say, the term “concelebration” in both the Catholic Church and English means the term concelebration. Also, the pectoral cross represents the cross that the priest wears as a sign of dignity around the neck, on the chest (and not on the finger, as I, informedly, thought) and translates as a pectoral cross or pectoral.

When dealing with a topic that is not close to us, it is necessary to check every term, even though it sounds familiar. Thus we will avoid false couples, such as patriarchy, which translates to patriarchy, and patriarchy, which we translate by the term patriarchy.

Certainly, due to cultural differences, there are also words that do not have a counterpart in the English language. We translate them descriptively, and the place of worship will be a place of worship or the house of prayer, popadija is simply the priest’s wife (although the term presbyter also appears somewhere), and Svetosavlje is either left in its original form or explained as the Saint Sava’s cult.


Holidays And Observances In Serbia In 2021

Date  Day Name  Type
1 Jan Friday New Year’s Day National holiday
2 Jan Saturday Second Day of New Year’s Day National holiday
6 Jan Wednesday First Day of BaptismOrthodox Optional holiday
7 Jan Thursday Orthodox Christmas Day The national holiday, Orthodox
14 Jan Thursday Orthodox New Year Observance, Orthodox
27 Jan Wednesday Spirituality Day/St Sava’s Day Observance
15 Feb Monday Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia National holiday
16 Feb Tuesday Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia (Day 2) National holiday
20 March Saturday March Equinox Season
2 April Friday Good Friday Christian,  Optional holiday
3 Apr Saturday Holy Saturday Christian, Optional holiday
4 Apr Sunday Easter Sunday Christian, Optional holiday
5 Apr Monday Easter Monday Christian,  Optional holiday
22 Apr Thursday Holocaust Remembrance Day Observance
30 Apr Friday Orthodox Good Friday The national holiday, Orthodox
1 May Saturday Orthodox Holy Saturday The national holiday, Orthodox
1 May Saturday Labor holiday National holiday
2 May Sunday Orthodox Easter Day The national holiday, Orthodox
3 May Monday Orthodox Easter Monday The national holiday, Orthodox
3 May Monday Labor holiday second day National holiday
4 May Tuesday Day off for Labor holiday National holiday
9 May Sunday Victory Day Observance
13 May Thursday Eid al-FitrMuslim, Optional holiday
21 Jun Monday June Solstice Season
28 Jun Monday St Vitus Day Observance
20 Jul Tuesday First Day of Eid al-Adha Muslim, Optional holiday
16 Sep Thursday Yom KippurHebrew,  Optional holiday
22 Sep Wednesday September Equinox Season
21 Oct Thursday World War II Victims Remembrance Day Observance
11 Nov Thursday Armistice Day National holiday
21 Dec Tuesday December Solstice Season
25 Dec Saturday First Day of Christmas Christian Optional holiday
31 Dec Friday New Year’s Eve Observance


Final Thoughts

Red Letter Day and religion have a very important role in Serbia. In case you want to learn Basic Conversation and Body And Health Vocabulary In Serbian, you might want to use Ling App and learn more about basic words and phrases in Serbian, alphabet, and spelling, or sentences in an easy, fun, and fast way.

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