Serbia has a lot to work through in the coming year, with a national election looming and the fallout from whatever decision is made over its relationship with the European Union. That does not even acknowledge the impact of the global economic climate on trade or the effects of the on-going emotive issue of Kosovo.
In the long run up to the election, we have already seen politicians of all colours posturing to grab the attention of voters, while some of the less salubrious business heads manoeuvre their way to seize even greater influence over the country’s future. Nothing is new there then.
Aside from the self aggrandisement of politicians and the bluster and bravado that momentous times attract, most people are just getting on with life, trying to make the best of their lot.
Serbia’s slava festivities are quite exceptional. I have to admit that, before I visited the region, I had never even heard of slava but over years of visits, I have become quite accustomed to such events. However, it was not always that way.
My first experience of joining a family to celebrate their slava was in Banja Luka. I was still getting my head around some of the cultural idiosyncrasies and so I didn’t quite know what to expect when my friend and I were invited to the slava at a family home in the rural outskirts of a town in Republika Srpska. Portrayed as something between a religious blessing and a booze and buffet get-together, complete with the earlier slaughter of the family’s own pig, we were a little perplexed by the whole thing really. All we felt was that it must be quite an honour to be invited to join the family at this special time.
The calendar has flipped over to trigger the start of another brave new year. All around the world families have gathered, fireworks have filled the skies and Champagne corks have popped to ring out the old and ring in the new.
Now that the parties are mostly over, the decorations have been taken down and the hangover has finally faded, it follows that we look back and assess what we have achieved in the past twelve months. It is equally inevitable that we look forward to new prospects and see what we can improve upon in the coming year. It seems that no matter how satisfied we are with our lot, we cannot help but pull it apart to re-evaluate our actions, mull over our mistakes and often wish that we could turn back the clock to do it all again. Only better this time round, of course.