Monday, May 09, 2011

I met the Prince of Ethiopia last night

An old friend of Jack's is Serbian. One of the most important feast days in the Serbian Orthodox tradition is the Slava - the feast day of a family's patron saint (in this case, it was St George's feast day, one of the more popular ones). So, Jack and I were invited to the Slava.

His friend's father was commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and I think that's how he got so connected. So among the guests was the Prince of Ethiopia, and I believe the princess with him was his daughter.

I shook hands with royalty!!

And then felt thoroughly underdressed!

It was explained to me that the Slava was based on an early pagan tradition where families would feast to honor their personal tribal gods. When they were converted to Christianity, they were given saints to replace those gods so they could still have their big feasts. It is a huge to-do, tons of food, tons of people.

But it was also a ritual feast, you start by eating a bite of a special kind of bread (the name of it escapes me) that's made with unleavened bread to represent the dead and wheat to represent the living, to honor the ancestors. It was really like any other party, but the clergy bless the feast (I believe it was in Serbian) and the people who would partake of the feast.

The Slava is a big holiday so they went all out. Traditionally, since multiple families had the same patron saint, you would just spend the entire day going from house to house to celebrate each Slava.

It was really awesome!

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