Bosnian Culture

January 4, 2008

Zeljo’s in SarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most diverse countries in former Yugoslavia, and you will feel this almost immediately when you visit. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, three groups make up the greatest percentage of the population: the Bosnians, Croats, and the Serbs. You can also find Jews, Romanian, Albanians, and Turks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With this rich blend of culture and beliefs, you’ll feel steeped in a very old and complex way of life. Enjoy it!

Home Life in Bosnian Culture
In the countryside in Bosnia and Herzegovina, families usually live in houses of brick, stone, or wood. Countryside homes were traditionally zadrugas, which were made up of several families living on a common land. Families shared the farming responsibilities to lighten the workload of farming a great deal. Today, you will still find a great community atmosphere in small villages and suburban city regions alike.

Many Bosnians are Muslims, and if you plan home visits during your travels, keep in mind that removing your shoes is regular practice in Muslim households. Slippers are generally provided by the host when you visit Bosnian homes.

Family Life in Bosnian Culture
Elders are respected in Bosnian culture and are considered extremely important members of the family. Their opinions and wishes are always handled with the utmost care.

In fact, family life in general may seem more formal, including the relationship between parents and children. Bosnian culture still maintains extended family groups, which means that the grandparents live with their adult children and care for the children while the parents are at work. Godparenting is commonly practiced, and all children are raised with values respecting their older relatives and knowing that they will most likely care for older relatives later on.

Families were affected by the war in the 1990s, which visitors should keep in mind. Some families have been broken up and are now headed by widows after husbands were lost to the conflict. In addition, different areas reached a higher concentration during the war. More people moved into cities from the countryside, where they remain today. Suburban areas became much more heavily populated in the mid-1990s, adding even more personality to these already diverse areas.

Women and Marriage in Bosnian Culture
Women usually work outside of their homes in cities and large towns. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, women have equal political and economic rights. In many families, women may be more responsible for household tasks like food shopping, household chores, and childcare, particularly in more rural Bosnian regions.

Food in Bosnian Culture
You’ll find that no matter which cuisine you choose to sample, it most likely combines delicious roasted meats, stewed vegetables, and bread in a bevy of combination. Have a traditional Bosnian stew of cabbage and meat, and burek and pida, which are layered meat and cheese pies. Try baklava, a Turkish sweet, to finish off your meal.

Bosnian Culture Tourist Tips
*In Bosnia and Herzegovina, tipping in bars and restaurants is expected. In smaller restaurants, it’s not customary but is always appreciated. Aim for 5-10% of the total.
*Use caution when discussing politics. While many Bosnians are both friendly and enthusiastic to talk about any subject, it’s recommended that you listen to political opinions and not necessarily voice yours.


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