Drinking customs in Balkan



West has its games and parties, but not the Slav drinking history that radiates with positivity and warmth. Drinking is somewhat a religious thing among Balkan folk, where alcohol is used at every event, him being bad or good. In Slav lands, Holy Days and liquor go hand in hand. It all began when Slavs were still tribal community that picked fruits of the land and enjoyed in peaceful nomadic life. Drinks were used among other products as offering to the Sun God. Slavs are people of the forest, very calm and easygoing, that hold family the most important thing in the world. So in a way, I’m saying we are party hard elfish folk that have history in drinking and can drink more than we can pick off the ground.


Usual age when a Balkan Boys and Girls start to drink is around twelve years old. At first, it’s just a sip, but two years later that sip is turned into a bottle. It is one, most favorite thing to do while spending your time with friends. Getting drunk is a normal thing, as that is the effect of alcohol on human body. In the US, you would not be able to sit in the park with a group of people and get wasted, but in the Balkan, you can sit in front of police station, and police would kindly ask you to move from the entrance. I know, because I did that. I do not support drink and drive. I have never done that. I just ask friend for a ride home. There is no alcohol in prison, man. Let’s get to drinking then.

Never offer a glass that’s half full.

In some Slav states, it is a custom to pour half of glass. This is the host’s way to show he wants you around, as he constantly needs to refill your glass and bring more drink, but when the glass is full, it is telling you, that’s the time for you to leave. In Balkan, this has opposite meaning. To offer a half of glass, is to make an offence to the guest. It means you don’t value them, that you think they are a half of the man and therefore, they don’t deserve a full glass. Wars were started over this, friendships lost and broken with many dead.


Always look into someone’s eyes when clinking glasses.

There is something in the eyes when someone is saluting you. You can always tell if they wish you a good health or not. It is a sign of respect towards the people you share drink with. If you miss the eye contact, you must repeat the clink until the contact is established. Many will ask: How do you clink if you don’t follow where your glass is going? Well, you tend to aim and swiftly turn your eyes towards the friendly face, before the class hitting glass sound, rings in your ear.


Never say “Cheers” with something that isn’t alcohol.

Water, as a type of drink, is passionately hated among Slav. They’ll say: “Water is good for nothing, that’s why you wash your feet in it.” Drinking is connected with religion to some point. Every celebration is spent in rivers of alcohol, because, a newborn child is greeted with a glass of alcohol and a friend is sent away with same. Holy bread is being crossed with vine, it’s being poured on the bountiful land for a good year filled with crops, and it can be used in many ways. Distillery is commonly called “The Church”, because Slav usually bless themselves before first sip of “Rakija” (Rakija – homemade fruit brandy). Cheering is mostly used as a ceremony during more notable celebrations, like marriage, Saint Days (Slava) and birthdays. A host would take his drink and go to each guest wishing him “Živeli” (Long live, Long life), where they’ll briefly stare at each others eyes, bless themselves and take a sip.


Always take a sip from the glass after toasting before putting the glass back on the table.

It’s considered very rude and disrespectful not to drink when pleasantries are exchanged among friends. Sipping after the toast is sort of a seal that confirms spoken words. Don’t be misled by thinking that sip must be long, because a rude joke may take place. If a beginner is accepted in company of seasoned drinkers, and he doesn’t know the custom and it’s meaning, it is sure they will exploit his ignorance by constantly making toasts and salutes until he is in no ability to look straight. That’s how I got drunk for the first time.


For more fresh topics, search for “Dronstad” on your Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Drinking customs in Balkan

  1. Pingback: Beautiful Serbia | Dronstad

  2. Pingback: My country’s fling | Dronstad

  3. Strange. In our country, the parents of the brides secretly enquire to find if the prospective groom drinks. If it is discovered that the groom is fond of glass, the marriage is cancelled. In some states, drinking is an offence. If you want to drink on health reasons, you must apply for permit attaching a doctor’s certificate.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s