nemi and bill, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Čestitam means congratulations in Serbian and last night I celebrated with my friend, the birth of his nephew. In Serbian tradition and medical practice, when a mother goes into labor, the father cannot be in the operating room. In fact, for several days after the birth, only one visitor to the hospital is allowed at a time. This is very different from the US or Latin America where I was in the operating room with my wife.

So what can the father do? In Serbian tradition he throws a raucous party and guests rip a piece of his shirt for good luck and health. A father may go through several shirts in an evening. If any of my readers can tell me the origins of this tradition, why is this done? I guess if you can’t be there, you might as well have a good time and there is no better reason for a party than a birth of a child.

Nemanja in the picture is not actually the father but the uncle, but the party guests got carried away and ripped three of his shirts as well as shirts of his brother-in-law. I had a great time and need to learn some Serbian folk songs. The accordion player was belting out some traditional songs and I recognized many words, “srce” – heart, but I could only dance and not sing like the rest of the party. I wish Americans celebrated like the Serbs do. We don’t get many occasions where everyone is drinking, singing, and dancing with a live accordion player in the apartment! Such a warm feeling of togetherness!

Congratulations to Nemanja and his family! All the best for many more healthy children!

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