Every single country in the world has its own tradition how to greet or meet someone’s new. Depends of cultural heritage, religion and beliefs, there are many different ways. That implies to Serbs as well. We are going to teach you guys how to meet a local in a proper way, or on the other hand, How do we say Hello.
Lets start with the most important thing to know. While in other countries, when you are greeting with somebody, you kiss 2 times in cheeks. In Serbia, common is to do that 3 times. A basic understanding of the meaning of this greeting in the Orthodox Christian world is a mutual greeting of the Holy Trinity, devoting every kiss to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In addition to this there is another less well known explanation, which carries messages and pledges of national honor, and it reads:
Serbs kiss three times.
The third kiss on the cheek is the most important.
Serbs kiss three times:
in the name of life (celebrates the value of life, to live a life worthy of an honorable man),
in the name of death (with respect to our deceased relatives, as well as celebrating our ancestors),
in the name of honor (in the name of honor in the Orthodox Christian spirit and ordered to live in honor of Christian virtue.).”
Another characteristic (but not that everyday usual) greeting is the three fingers of the right hand raised to the sky. This way of greeting appears during the First and Second Serbian Uprising (almost certainly even a couple of centuries earlier). This greeting is used in ceremonial situations and circumstances. Three fingers symbolized baptism, which is the greeting to the Holy Trinity. When we are baptized we use just these three fingers, thumb, index and middle finger, and when they are compound, represents the unity of the Trinity.
But there is of course easier and not that official greeting, which is probably the best when you are meeting somebody for the first time. You wont make a mistake with just a handshake. We like, proper, thigh grip of a hand. And the most important thing is an eye contact. That means that hand shaking is sincere and from the heart. Serbians like a proper grip, but beware of breaking some bones!
When you are meeting with your Serbian friends, there is no need for official types such as hand shake or kissing for 3 times. We like to hug with people we love and consider close friends (also a longer and thigh hug).
If you want to impress some Serbian girls, a kiss on a hand (with an eye contact, everything is in the eye contact) is a good start! Everybody loves gentlemen’s, so don’t be shy!