Written by: Olivera Tolimir

Oh, well. The New Year is impatiently knocking on our door. In just a few days, it will come in and shoo the old year.

Are you ready?

Whether you’re a social butterfly or prefer celebrating at home with a small circle of friends, you probably have it all planned by now.

If you’re unsure how we spend New Year’s Eve in Serbia, keep reading! You’ll learn Serbian ways of celebrating. 

Two New Years Two Weeks Apart

Like many others around the globe, Serbians celebrate the New Year on January 1st. The evening before, we listen to music, dance, eat, drink, and enjoy ourselves with friends and family.

But it’s not enough for revelers like the Serbs!

We celebrate another New Year on January 14th. It’s the New Year according to the Julian calendar, which is 13 days late than the Gregorian. To learn Serbian ways of celebrating the New Year, remember that we call this holiday Orthodox/Serbian New Year.

Of course, as a secular country, Serbia uses the Gregorian calendar. But the Serbian Orthodox Church uses the old one. That’s why we celebrate Christmas on January 7th! And logically, Serbian New Year’s Eve is six days after Christmas.

But most Serbs consider the real New Year to be on January 1st. That’s why everyone celebrates New Year’s Eve in December, and we see the Serbian New Year as an opportunity to go out and have fun with friends (again). It’s usually more modest.

Learn Serbian New Year Food & Drink

It’s not a secret that Serbs enjoy food and drink, especially the festive kind!

If you plan to spend New Year’s Eve with your Serbian friends, we suggest you learn Serbian cuisine first. That way, you’ll know not to eat before New Year’s party at your friend’s house!

Jokes aside, if you want to amaze your hosts, the key is to learn Serbian New Year meals. They’ll be thrilled if you bring Russian salad or a cake to their party.

Serbian New Year meals are very similar to the Slava ones. We eat pecenje (roasted pig or lamb), sarma, Russian salad, mimosa salad, and cakes. If you’re at a chill house party, you can enjoy cevapi, pljeskavice, and fries.

Learn Serbian ways of celebrating New Year: It can't go without pecenje!
Learn Serbian ways of celebrating New Year: It can’t go without pecenje!

Serbs mostly toast with rakija, but if the drink is too strong for you, you don’t have to learn Serbian way of doing it. Just go and drink whatever you like!

Of course, a glass of champagne at midnight is mandatory! When midnight ticks, we pop the champagne and toast by wishing a happy New Year to each other. We say Srećna Nova godina (happy New Year in Serbian)! 

Learn Serbian New Year Music

It’s much faster to learn Serbian food than to learn Serbian music. And adapt to it.

Serbs usually listen to their folk songs on New Year’s Eve. We can start with pop-rock music, but in 99% of the cases, we’ll end up with folk ones.

If you’re not used to it, you won’t like it. But we suggest you give a chance to our old folk songs. They’re specific and emotional.

As for modern folk music… Well, those are songs to have fun and drink. Treat them as such and have another rakija. Ziveli!

What to Do for New Year’s Eve in Serbia?

Now that you’ve learned some basic stuff about New Year in Serbia, let’s go through some popular destinations for celebrating it!

If we exclude house parties, there are three main types of celebrating New Year in Serbia:

  • New Year’s Eve in a city,
  • New Year’s Eve at a mountain, and
  • New Year’s Eve in a spa.

Let’s look at the differences!

New Year’s Eve in a Serbian city

If you like crowds and parties, consider celebrating New Year’s Eve in one of the Serbian cities.

If Belgrade is the first to come to your mind, it’s justified. Belgrade is the Serbian capital that has around two million inhabitants. If you like the idea of clubbing for the craziest night in a year, Belgrade is your best choice. With its huge number of nightclubs and restaurants, everyone can find something for their taste and budget.

Even if you don’t like nightclubs, some of our most popular singers and bands always sing at the square so you can enjoy the music for free. Also, singers from different genres perform at various locations. So, everyone can find something for themselves!

At midnight, there are always spectacular fireworks and light shows!

Learn Serbian ways of celebrating New Year: It can't go without fireworks!
Learn Serbian ways of celebrating New Year: It can’t go without fireworks!

Aside from a New Year’s Eve musical performance, Novi Sad offers a variety of daily activities for families with children. A winter manifestation in the Danube Park at the heart of Novi Sad is called Ledena suma (Icy Forest). There’s an ice rink, a Christmas fair, and a daily New Year celebration for children on December 31st.

Daily New Year celebrations aren’t reserved for children only! Although they differ a lot from those organized for children. Daily celebrations take place in nightclubs on December 31st start working around 10 or 11 am. There, people enjoy their day just like they usually enjoy their nights! They end around 5-6 pm, so everyone can go home, have lunch, and maybe even nap a little before getting ready for the New Year’s Eve celebration (this time for real).

Many other Serbian cities organize a square musical performance. If you’d like to learn Serbian ways of celebrating New Year in cities, we suggest you choose and visit one! You’ll have a great time and maybe discover your future favorite musician!

New Year’s Eve at a mountain

If you want to learn Serbian nature, and enjoy snow and skiing, Serbian mountains are your best choice for New Year’s Eve!

There’s a great selection between simple cabins for a rustic experience and luxury hotels and weekend houses for the more glam ones.

For intact nature and learning Serbian with locals, choose Tara or Zlatar. If you prefer more people and mountain towns, there are Kopaonik and Zlatibor. They’re the most popular skiing destinations in Serbia.

Hotels in popular Serbian ski destinations usually organize live music in their restaurants for New Year’s Eve. So, you can enjoy our traditional food and music while watching snowy nature through the window!

New Year’s Eve in a spa

Serbia is known for its spa towns. If you prefer a passive than an active vacation, a spa is a better choice than a mountain!

Most popular spas in Serbia are Vrnjacka banja, Sokobanja, Banja Koviljaca, Banja Vrujci, Banja Vrdnik, and so on.

Here, you can also enjoy a New Year’s Eve dinner with music while relaxing in thermal waters and enjoying walks in nature.

Hopefully, we helped you learn Serbian ways of celebrating New Year’s Eve! Does it differ from your country’s traditions?

We wish you very happy New Year! May all your wishes come true!

If your New Year resolution is to learn Serbian in the next year, start by taking one of our self-study courses or taking some individual lessons!

P.S. Orthodox Serbian Christmas is just a few days after the New Year! Make sure to learn about Serbian Christmas traditions in this article.