February 25, 2012

To my new Serbian readers and friends....

I wanted to say ''thank you'' to all the Serbians who wrote such enthusiastic  comments to me.  I am also grateful to you for sharing links to videos about your country, and of the dance and musical videos.  Thank you for your advice and information about your language, as well. I think I will be able to learn it quickly.
I am SO happy that so many enjoyed what I wrote about Serbia. You made my week very exciting, since I got to hear from so many people! I hope everyone continues to have fun looking at my blog, and my pictures on facebook. (By the way, thank you for following them!)  Again, you are so friendly and you make me and my family want to visit Serbia even more than we did before! 
Also thank you for telling me about the newspapers and websites that I was published in!

In your comments, some of you had questions which I did not get a chance to answer earlier; I will try to answer them here:

Yes- I would enjoy it if anyone could share their favorite recipes with me! The Serbian recipes which we have tried so far have been delicious. I would love to try more!

Another question was:  ''How did you hear about Serbia?''

Here is my answer: Our family has always loved other cultures and countries; and I grew up enjoying our studies of different countries, making foods from those countries and watching the folk dances. But I don’t think we would have EVER heard of, or fallen in love with less commonly known countries like Serbia if it hadn’t been for a group here in the states called ‘’The Duquesne University Tamburitzans’’. They authentically represent the countries of eastern and southern Europe through folk dance, music and song!

The Duquesne University Tamburitzans in Serbian costumes in 2009
Duquesne University Tamburitzans performed this dance in 2009

The Duquesne University Tamburitzans have a wonderful goal of preserving the timeless folk traditions of Eastern and Southern Europe (and surrounding regions) for generations to come. They have certainly met that goal. Most of the performers have Eastern European backgrounds, while others are from Bulgaria, Macedonia or Serbia.

Serbian ''Tamburitzan'' Srdjan Males

Filip Petkovski from Macedonia, and Nick Jovonovich who is Serbian-American

Mitko Nikolov, Macedonian
We saw our first Duquesne University Tamburitzan show in 2003 or 2004, and our love for the countries they portray grew steadily from there. My personal research of Serbia’s culture, history and geography began with my enthusiasm for the Serbian folk dances (particularly from Vlajna, Nis, and Sumadija), as well as my love for the lively folk music and songs. Listening to the beautiful old folk songs has also inspired us with a love for the language, and I am currently eagerly learning the Cyrillic alphabet.

Picture of the first Serbian dance we ever saw: Stara Vlajna performed by
 the Duquesne University Tamburitzans in 2004

About our costumes....
My older sister’s passion is sewing folkloric costumes; she and our Mum sew our costumes. My sister has even started her own business of little girls’ clothing based on ethnic costumes: Nonpareils Designs. (visit her site by clicking on the name!)
We are constantly inspired by the traditional clothing of southern and eastern europe.When making our costumes, my sister studies as best she can the details of the original folk costume. She usually only has dance videos to go from. We especially love making renditions of the beautiful folk clothing from your country and surrounding regions.
When my sister made my Nis costume, all she had for reference was one of our favorite dances on a video! For the embellishments on the coat, she did get some advice from the seamstress/wardrobe manager (who is also the wife of the director) of the Duquesne University Tamburitzans.

Povedi Oro Todoro- a dance by the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. Pictures are from the video of the dance. And this is what inspired us to make my Nis costume!

And the Nis costume we made from above dance video!

My costume inspiration!

(Me in my Nis costume which was based on above pictures)

The back of my costume

Picture of original Nis costume

Our  version of the costume!

Besides attending the annual show of the Tamburitzans which originally instilled in us a love for Serbia, we also like to go to other cultural events nearby.
Two years ago in September my family and I were able to go to a ''Tamburitza Extravaganza'' (link will lead you to my post about it!) which lasted 3 days. That special event featured music by dozens of tamburitza groups, wonderful Serbian folk dance workshops taught by Nikola Krcadinac, and more. Also included was a display of antique folk clothing from eastern and southern Europe, which gave us a chance to finally investigate in person several favorite folk costumes, some of which we had already copied as costumes for ourselves.

We even like to do our own festivals together as a family! For my birthday two years ago, my Mum surprised me with a table decorated Serbian-style, with jars and packages of foods from the country, pictures of the scenery, dolls in folk costumes, textiles, small drums to represent the tarambukan or tupan drums, and more. Completing the Serbian atmosphere, we made delicious foods including pljeskavica, palachinke, and cevapčići. (I will share more pictures sometime soon!)

Someone asked: Have you been to Europe before?
No, but it is one of my dreams to visit Serbia someday! I would love to see your country in person; I’ve read that Serbia is incredibly rich in natural beauty as well as culture! And thanks for the videos you shared; they showed us even more of the treasures of Serbia. Thank you!

Lastly....here are two videos of dances I really liked! I'm sure there are dozens more online. I could spend all day just looking them up and watching them. But since I don't have the time to do that, I appreciated all the links my Serbian readers shared!

Well...I must go now, but I hope to write more next week! Have a good weekend, all my readers and friends. :)

February 15, 2012

Because I love Serbia...

...I dubbed today ''Serbia day''.

After all, today (February 15th) is the day the nation celebrates its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1804. 
A worthy date to remember, certainly. 
And since Serbia boasts some of my most favorite dances, folk costumes (clothing), songs, language, and scenery, not to mention the food, or the fact that it was my birthday theme two years ago....I tried to celebrate Serbia in my own way today.
 We didn't have an all-day party or time-consuming banquet, but I made crêpes for breakfast (palachinke in Serbian), because they are a favorite Serbian dessert. And we just finished (7 pm) eating a Serbian/Balkan style supper of chicken marinated overnight in lemon/garlic/paprika, with a fresh salad of tomatoes/onion/green peppers/parsley/olive oil/salt/kefir (It was supposed to have cucumbers and yogurt as well, but we ate them yesterday. That always happens.);
with bread and garlicy baked cubed potatoes.  
Of course, we listened to one of my Serbian folk dance music CDs while eating. :)
Since I have each of our favourite countries' biggest national holiday marked on the calendar in my room, I'm hoping to continue doing mini celebrations for each country. Maybe we'll even take some minutes watching our favorite dances from each corresponding country...
My sisters and I have been studying and learning a certain Serbian dance (one of many!) and its so much fun. All these dances from Eastern/Southern Europe are amazing.
Just amazing! (and beautiful, I think)
I hope you enjoy the following two clips which I found.
First video is of a wedding dance, and the second one is an amazing energetic dance typical of Serbian next-to-Bulgaria regions. I know they are different from maybe what you are used to enjoying, but try a little....see what you think! :)

Serbian costume from region of Nisava river valley, next to Bulgaria

The above and following photos are from my Birthday in 2010. :)
My Mum and Nikola had already made me my dream Serbian costume (in pictures) in 2005. But I was able to again fit into it on my 19th birthday. :) (It's a forgiving outfit- the only problem was that I had grown a few inches, and I found to my surprise that the original waistline had between 2007 and 2010 become an untraditional empire waistline! Haha. New Serbian portraits this spring are a must though, as we have since let out the hem quite a bit)

Dancing Serbian dances :)

Ahh...delightful September birthday memories!

Serbian designs on coat

Nikola made all the designs on the back of the coat! She is planning on doing a series of interesting costume posts on her blog soon. Then we will show pictures of the original costume, and our rendition....:)


Young dried cornstalks from my garden add a harvest touch to the Serbian table


My favorite doll in a beautiful costume from the Vlach region (up in the mountains) of Serbia!
My sister Nikola made this as a surprise for my birthday. I love displaying my dolls in the little costumes we make for them, based on traditional clothing! The Vlach costume is one of my favorites.

Nikola posing in her Sumadija costume

Below....pictures of Serbian costumes/dances from the Duquesne University Tamburitzans

(Dances from Sumadija, Serbia. My sister Nikola's costume (see above pictures) is based on this one!)

Nick Jovonovich- a Serbian-American performer

We love Serbian music!

... and Lastly, some pictures which are not taken by us, but which I like :)

Beautiful :)

Serbian flag
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of ''Serbia''!
(the cultural side, at least! :))

Love from ......MAPЖOЛEHA
(yes! that's my name in Serbian)