More Local traditions and culture in Republika Srpska

  • Happy holiday, Banja Luka!
    Happy holiday, Banja Luka!
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    Starica prede vunu
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  • Banja Luka at night
    Banja Luka at night
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Most Viewed Local Customs in Republika Srpska

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    Respect your host!

    by Odiseya Updated Nov 17, 2015

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    Hospitality is very important in culture of all Balkans nations. It is also and question of personal pride and honor. People here in country are very friendly and socialization are big and important part of our life.

    Invitation for visit residents is proof of personal trust and mutual respect!

    If you planing to visit someone house on your own (after you been invited) it is customary to call or send message in advance and arrange meeting. Don't only show up at the doorstep! Host like to be perceived like "householder" (domaćin) especially mans like that. They would offer you some snack or even full lunch (depend your reason for your visiting). Don't worry if you too selective regards your nutrition and eating habits. If your host know any of that kind of information be sure that they will respect that! Since proper hosting take resources and time always arrange visit in advance! The "three days rule" is recommended for call but that depend for many reasons but mostly how well you know your host and is there some special event.

    If you visited someone house for the first time then it is nice to bring some small gifts to your host. Selection it depend of how you know well your host. I like to bring some staff that I know that my host like. Any case it could be small box of cookies or box of chocolates (known as "bombonjera") if you visit younger person or popular bag of coffee and box of sugar for elderly. Nice bottle of wine (probably some homemade) is also nice and very formal if you know that your host like that. This is more gift for gentlemen. Something unique or popular item from your country (like souvenir) is always nice to see.
    Always bring small gift for kids if your host have any. Any chocolate or even "Kinder egg" sweets would do. That kind to kids don't limited only for fist visit. You will be very nice guest for they for sure.

    Special events like personal, family and religious event (which is always at least two events for same personal) are special occasion and reasons to strengthen your relations with locals. It considered to person are honored by invitation especially on Slava. If you accepted by kind and show up! It will expected from you to arrive on time (if it possible, of course)!

    No matter what is reason for your visit you will be treated with honor. They will offered you the food and drinks and they will respect your wishes.
    That why it necessary to arrange visit in advance so that your host can prepare all. Even if your host live in humbled condition she/he would make you feel nice and welcoming. Only thing you can do is show your gratitude. Don't make joke about hosts or its house. I think that is general rules in any place in world.

    It will be expected to take off your shoes! They make sure that it will be protected and it will not leave it in front of door then inside. If you smoke ask if your host allowed, it usually is even if your host don't smoke.

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    Tipping

    by Odiseya Updated Sep 6, 2015

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    Restaurants, pubs and cafes staff are paid for their work and usually people don't leave tip in country. People give sometime a reward of about 10% for good service in restaurant or bar or simple round up the bill.

    It is not obligatory custom to tipping. Mostly, all cafes are friendly places and it is up to you and your good manners to stay like that. We all will be grateful if we leave place clean and in peace instead of more money.

    In cafe bar
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    Use only national currency

    by Odiseya Updated Sep 14, 2015

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    In every store in Bosnia and Herzegovina in use is only national currency call Convertible Mark abbreviation KM (Serbian Cyrillic: Конвертабилна марка, read: Konvertabilna marka).

    I recommend you to bring Euros (for Dollars you need show your ID or Passport) and exchange it in exchange offices or banks. Rate is the same for every place where you can exchange money but the fee is different. I always go to Nova Banka a.d. Banja Luka because they have lowest fees for exchange.

    Exchange office
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    Working hours during winter holidays

    by Odiseya Updated Dec 24, 2015

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    Winter is time of biggest celebration and interesting cultural events and manifestation. This is also and time of official public holidays and that is also and non-working days.

    Usually there is limitation of working hours for restaurants and cafes and even night clubs.
    There is officially permitting of city major and local Assembly that working hours of all restaurants, clubs, pubs and cafes in the city can work longer than the hours prescribed by the decision of the city, until 14 January 2016.

    Note for visitors of Banja Luka in January 2016:
    - on 1st, 2nd, 7th and 14th January - restaurants and cafes can work limitless,
    - rest of days till 14th January (except on days wrote previous) - restaurants and cafes can work one hours later then usually on following terms:
    • restaurants, catering services for food and drinks and cafes:
    - during week from 7 am till 1 am
    - on weekends from 7 am till 2 am
    • restaurants awarded with quality mark "golden spoon":
    - during week from 7 am till 2 am
    - on weekends from 7 am till 3 am
    • Night clubs (disco-bars, disco-clubs / discos and night clubs):
    - 7 pm to 4 am,
    - 7 pm to 5 am, on weekends (Friday and Saturday).
    • Salons for special occasions (wedding salons, etc.):
    07:00 to 04:00 hours.
    - on 9th January (St. Stephan Day or Day of Republika Srpska) butcher shops can work from 8 am till 13 pm and flower shops from 8 am till 8 pm and discount stores from 8 am till noon.

    Happy holidays!

    Banja Luka
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    Subtitles on TV

    by Odiseya Updated Jan 7, 2016

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    Like TV, no problem?! Here is in use a subtitles. So, this is good opportunity to even start learn Serbian language, subtitles help me to learn English.

    And cinema too is subtitle and you won’t be limited for current blockbusters.

    Mostly TV shows that here is predominately on English. Mostly sitcoms are from USA, but you can enjoy in telenoveles form Central and South America, TV series from Turkey and India. You could enjoy in classic English humor and popular movies. We use for szbtitle predominately Latin aphabet.

    All international films are in their original language and subtitled in the local language except those that are aimed for children in which case they are dubbed in the local language.

    Anyway, that sistem helps me to learn English language (or any other language) and it will benefit to you too.

    TV
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    Three!

    by Prasnjavi Written Apr 14, 2005

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    Be careful, both men and women show their affection with three kisses on the alternate cheeks. Otherwise, someone will tell you: "God helps three times". Three is, in some way, national sign. All people in the World show two fingers as the sign of victory, we use to show three.

    Three fingers

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    Take your shoes off!

    by Odiseya Updated Aug 21, 2015

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    It will be expected to take off your shoes!
    They make sure that it will be protected and it will not leave it in front of door then inside.

    Some people don't care too much especially if they don't have carpets in home but mostly people have that.

    Sometimes you can see in front of older residential buildings in towns small metal things attach to concrete. It was meant for cleaning boots.

    Roads are usually bad, lots of mud everywhere especially during rain and it is not polite to enter to someone home with dirty shoes, of course.

    In front of door there usually some kind rag for cleaning shoes. Next to main door inside there usually plastic part where people leave their shoes and it prevent to water and dirty enter to carpet.

    Some people have some kind plastic shoe spoon to help you to wear your shoes and sometime and small footstools.

    NB - Only exception to this rule is when one goes to someone on mourning (only on day of funeral). Custom mostly connect with villages where decedent stay overnight. In urban settlements there is less and less that custom. There is probably some variation of this custom.

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    Kolo

    by Odiseya Updated Nov 9, 2014

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    Kolo (Cyrillic: коло) is popular collective folk dance. It is part of many Slavic cultures. There is various styles of dance.

    Preservation of folk dance is part of our heritage and is popularized by folk dance ensembles. Interesting is that kolo is part of everyday social meetings such as weddings and any other type of celebrations.

    Kolo in Doboj Kolo in Doboj
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    New years celebration

    by Odiseya Written Aug 17, 2014

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    Winter here is not always followed with snow and snowing activity but there is plenty of holidays that always make this season very attractive for visitors. In fact, I considered this time of years to be most cheerful in year, dispute all odds.

    Period of winter holidays in Republika Srpska are festive days but here it start about middle December till middle of January following year.
    Why? Since most of Doboj inhabitants are Christian Orthodox and the Serbian Orthodox Church follow old Julian calendar. That means that all official holidays are 13 days later then official international Gregorian calendar.

    In fact, New Year fest here is 13th January and Christmas is on 7th January. Official international New Year celebration on 31th December is still a great celebration. But maybe even better is on 13th January. Center of every bigger place is illuminated by holidays decoration and often on very end of New Year (both times) are a big musical manifestation and fireworks. Truth is that economic crisis caused limitation in public celebration of important dates.

    Doboj is still one of rare towns besides Banja Luka that still have a two New Year celebration in January. For that purpose local government closed main squares or/and some parts of main street where is take part big concerts. There was rich musical program for both of celebrations.
    Besides that many people take part in smaller arranges parties in local cafes and restaurants and youth prefer inside party on their home.

    Besides New years celebration don't forget any Christmas celebration (Orthodox and Catholic) and in that time, besides religious part there is also and social events.
    There is also many other important (religious and national) dates that are followed with some kind of public ceremony such as St. Stefan or Day of Republika Srpska.

    So, if you passing trough Republika Srpska in that period you may expect to have a nice time.

    New 2010 Banja Luka
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    Working hours on 9th May

    by Odiseya Updated May 8, 2016

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    One more national holiday and non-working day is 9th May. It is Victory Day and Day of Europe or how we say it here Day of victory against fascism.

    On 9th May city and municipality administration will not work whole day, as well as republican authorities and organizations, local governments, enterprises, institutions and other organizations and persons professionally engaged in service and manufacturing activities.

    According to the Decision on determining the working time restaurants in the city of Banja Luka, all establishments that are located outside of residential and commercial apartment buildings on 9 May could work but with some restriction:
    - shops doesn't work except and those are: small shops and markets with food and drinks, flower shops and shops whose sell meat and fish on limited time from 7 am till noon;
    - restaurants, catering facilities for food and drink and cafes - in time from 7 am to 11 pm;
    - catering facilities which are located outside of residential and commercial buildings with quality mark "Golden spoon" award - in time from 7 am till midnight;
    - disco-bars, bars and night clubs - in time from 7 pm till 2 am
    - Shops of funeral equipment will work from 8 am till 21 pm.

    On other hand, no worry there is other option such as:
    - Bakeries, drugstores and commercial buildings in the bus, train stations and at petrol stations will be at the service of the citizens and visitors 24 hours.

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    Grandfather Frost and presents

    by Odiseya Written Feb 20, 2016

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    Favorite children memories about New Years celebration, beside presents are Grandfather Frost (Djed mraz). True is that many young children is at first scared by poor costumed guy that evidently not looks as traditional postcard image of Santa Claus. In Yugoslavia and evidently in many former Yugoslavian countries it is still favorite figure connected with New Year.

    This is part of family tradition and our parents who worked in many Yugoslavian companies (that sadly now is only memory of glorious industrial and economic past) had even something we could described as "family days at work". All workers whose children is not older then 10 years was titled by special present bag, one for each kid.

    I remember I got two present bags since my parents worked in different companies. Sadly, 80's in Yugoslavia was slowly influenced by economic crisis that still wait for us and I didn't get two presents every year. I remember that company where my mother worked had and movie screening for parents and their kids. Disney cartoon classics was very popular.
    At my fathers company there was more formal but they give time to kids to do some singing or recital. I think that local companies workers syndicate was organized those events.

    Today in national companies (known as as company on national budget) such as schools still hold event for parents and their kids. Photos with Grandfather Frost and presents is still obligatory memento. Presents bags is still very popular but slowly replaced by more convenient rectangular carton. Popular snacks and a lot of laughter and a few tears of fear from odd costumed strangers is still part of New Years connected memories.

    Catholic families have mostly Santa Claus event only and in new days many Orthodox young parents start similar tradition on Orthodox Day of Saint Nicolas (19th December). Since is obviously part of modern consumerism of tradition and still it is day of biggest Serbian Slava I still dont think it will be so popular national custom.

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    Working hours during Easter holiday

    by Odiseya Written Apr 11, 2015

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    Easter is biggest holiday for Christian but also and time of official public holidays and that is also and non-working days for entire Republika Srpska. All students are on spring holidays.

    Here officially Christian holidays are follow according to Julian calendar like Serbian Orthodox church who is dominant here.

    Note for visitors of Banja Luka in April 2015:
    - non-work days for official institution and city administration are 10th April (Great Friday) and on 13th April (Easter Monday).
    - on 11th April city administration had limited time,
    - some city and suburban bus lines on 10th, 12th (Easter) and on 13th will work limited and according to holiday works schedules.

    Happy Easter!

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    Christmas Market

    by Odiseya Written Feb 20, 2016

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    Majority of people in Republika Srpska is Christian Orthodox and celebrate Christmas on 7th January. Our Christmas decoration are very simple and traditional. Lots of brown dry tree branches. The tree from which the badnjak is cut is young and straight oak. Also, in newest time there is small pots of young wheat. I assume that is come from western christian tradition.

    Few days before Orthodox Christmas (around 4-5th January) on main markets and squares or central public area in towns you could see simple Christmas market. I assume that most visitors would be surprised by offer.
    In Banja Luka is little different location of that annual market. It used to be on Krayina Square but that is change when Zimzograd tradition start much more similar to western consumerism but still far from that. Now traditional Christmas market is next to Holly Trinity Church in wider area of downtown. Even is maybe much proper place somehow looks sad image but still decent.

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    Paying the bills

    by Prasnjavi Written Apr 14, 2005

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    Don’t be surprised if someone call you for a lunch or dinner and pay all. It’s a custom here. Even if their salaries are too small, people won't let their guests to pay anything. They don’t pay they bills separately even if they see each other for a first time. To pay just what you had for a drink or food?

    FORGET IT!

    My Godchild is paying the bill

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    Winter working hours

    by Odiseya Written Oct 1, 2015

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    From 1st October every year restaurants in Banja Luka regardless of the type and where is located (in residential and commercial buildings) it starts winter working hours from 7 am to 11 pm.

    Winter hours applies to all facilities that perform trading, craft and service industry in the city and its work from today takes from 7 am till 10 pm.

    As stated in the Department of Economics od City of Banja Luka, winter working hours in accordance with applicable decisions covers period start from 1st October till 31st March next year.

    Different working hours is during winter holidays (see separate tip).

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