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Balkan dictionary: Lifestyle terms

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Being a Balkan during recent history is not the most amazing thing. Fortunately, we are reaching a period in the human existence, where being a Balkan is a good thing. My duty is to present you why is that so and particularly with this series of the Balkan dictionary. I do it to show you some shortcuts for you to become more Balkan since this is a cool thing to be. Here are several terms related to lifestyle that you should know about the Balkans:

Kafana

This is an amazing concept. It’s a variation of a taverna and a restaurant and related mostly to a bohemian lifestyle. Here, one can enjoy live music, delicious food, and good vine or rakia. Or both. There are many songs dedicated to this place in the Balkan music. Most famous is "Kafana je moja sudbina (Kafana is my destiny)" by Toma Zdravkovic

Rakia

It is a fruit brandy that makes several Balkan countries proud producers of it. The alcohol content of rakia is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger (typically 50%). Taken in moderation can lead to a pleasant experience and it is considered as a drink that unites the Balkans.

Splav

This one is related to the cities that are settled by the rivers because is a floating platform. On this platforms, they set up nightclubs. For example, in Belgrade, the craziest nightlife is happening here. While choosing the splav, be careful with the music. Some of them are dedicated turbo-folk places. This is not so good if you have preferences for good music.

Slava

This is a custom related tradition and is my personal favorite. It is religion related, but the part of uniting the family is what impresses me the most. Every house (means family), chooses a saint that will protect the house and they are celebrating on this day. For example, my family is celebrating on 19.12. It is the day of St. Nikola and my mother is preparing a lunch and everyone that feels like our family can join. There are several rituals done on this day before the lunch, but they vary depending on the region. In my house, on the table, there is homemade bread, boiled wheat, and red vine. After the oldest in the house says the prayer and is asking for good health and protection for everyone, the vine is sipped on top of the bread and everyone is taking a peace for good luck. I love these home uniting traditions.

Turbo-folk

To explain you this more without playing a song, I had to google a bit. This is the shortest definition that I found. Turbo-folk is a music style, a mixture of Serbian folk music with modern pop music elements (and even elements from the Puerto Rican reggaeton and the Jamaican dancehall at times). I intentionally put this in a lifestyle section because it is more than music. It is a phenomenon full of bad lyrics and not so better music. The popularity that this music reached is a reason that this became a lifestyle, and not always in a good way. Summed Up short, it is low-quality music and you are lucky if you don't understand the lyrics.


The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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