Serbia has a fascinating and rich culture – the result of a long and varied history involving various influential occupations. A warm and welcoming people, a visit to this intriguing part of the world is a memorable one.
Serbian families have a patriarchal structure and are often very large, with extended family being very much a part of everyday life. In keeping with the close-knit nature of Serbian families, children are not pushed to be independent and fly the ‘coup’ when they come of age, as they often are in the West. The value placed on this type of independence is less than is commonly found in the western world. In fact, it is frequently the case that when sons and daughters marry, parents will build a story onto their own home to provide the first marital home for their children. Unsurprisingly, children will return the favour when their parents are too old to look after themselves. Care homes are not a popular option in this country with solid family-first values.
Women in the family often take on full time work outside the home, as well as household duties, like raising the children. This cultural norm began when men were away fighting and the women needed to fend for themselves and has endured to the present day.
Serbians are superb hosts, taking a lot of pride in providing their guests with the best of everything. Be prepared to eat, drink and be thoroughly entertained. Accordingly, the reception/entertaining area tends to be the focal point of a Serbian home.
When out at a bar or a restaurant, it is common for one member of the social group to pay for everyone. This custom is so important that it often results in sneaky tactics to be the one who picks up the bill, such as disappearing off under the pretence of visiting the washrooms to settle the bill.
Serbians tend to have a good work-life balance, with many office hours being between 8am and 3pm. This allows for time everyday to family and social occasions. Though extremely hardworking, the efficiency that people from the western world are accustomed to, is not something commonly found in Serbian working life. Getting things done more quickly tends to depend on the connections one has, so unless this is something you can exploit, then it is a good idea to allow more time for deadlines.
Serbia is a fascinating country with much to offer visitors and expats alike. With a long and interesting history, Serbia enjoys a variety of influences, making it a pleasure for an outsider to discover. For more on this fascinating country, see the Culture Smart! Guide to Serbia.