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Serbian in Serbia


Visiting a Church

Most churches in Serbia are Orthodox. Out of respect, visitors should wear appropriate clothing and turn off cell phones when entering the church. In the Orthodox tradition, the sign of the cross is made with three fingers, from the forehead to the chest and from right shoulder to left.

Serbian Orthodox churches are filled with extraordinary icons of the saints and the Holy Family. Lighting candles for both the living and the dead is common when visiting the church. In the vestibule, there is generally a little window behind which sits a volunteer selling candles, calendars, crosses and saint’s day cards. Other vendors sell candles outside the church; however, these candles are not always considered properly blessed. Inside the church, there are various elaborate containers of sand where candles can be placed in different sections for both the living and the dead. When lighting a candle, first make the sign of the cross. Then kiss the candle and light it with your own match or candle (never from another person’s candles), and place it in the sand.

Mass is normally held in the early evening six days a week and earlier on Sundays. There are no seats in the church – participants stand during the service. However, it may be possible to find benches or a few chairs reserved for the sick or elderly. Sometimes a church will contain the tomb or memorial of a particular saint.


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