The national symbols of Serbia are things which are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of Serbia and the Serbian people or Serbian culture. Some are established, official symbols; the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem, are all sanctioned in the Constitution of Serbia. Other symbols may not have official status, for one reason or another, but are likewise recognised and emblematic at a national or international level.

Official symbols

Type Image Symbol
National flag The national flag of Serbia is a horizontal tricolour of red, blue, and white with the lesser coat of arms placed left of center. The same tricolour, in altering variations, has been used since 1835.
Coat of arms The national coat of arms of Serbia was adopted in 2004 and is based on the original used during the Kingdom of Serbia. It consists of two main heraldic symbols which represent the identity of the Serbian state and Serbian people across the centuries: the Serbian eagle (a silver double-headed eagle adopted from the Nemanjić dynasty) and the Serbian cross (or cross with firesteels).
National anthem Bože pravde (God of Justice) is the current national anthem of Serbia. It was first adopted in 1882 and had been the national anthem of the Kingdom of Serbia until 1918. It was readopted in 2006 with slightly modified original lyrics, asserting that Serbia is no longer a monarchy - all the verses that had a monarchist overtone were changed.

Other symbols

Type Image Symbol
National colours The national colours of Serbia are red, blue and white, as appeared on the civil flag of Serbia, being commonly called the tricolour.[1][2] Red-blue-white sash is used for various purposes: as a cloth sash worn by municipal official conducting civic marriage; memorial wreaths are commonly adorned with tricolour sash; tricolour ribbon is cut at ceremonial event marking the official opening of a newly constructed location or the start of an event. Jemstvenik is a string made of red, blue and white strands that is used to tie together official documents.
National symbol The Serbian cross is based on the tetragramme, a Byzantine symbol. It is in use since 14th century and in modern times have been part of the coat of arms of Serbia. Serbian cross consists of a cross and four firesteels pointing outwards. Serbian tradition interprets the four firesteels as four Cyrillic letters "S" (С), for the motto "Only Unity Saves the Serbs".
Heraldic symbol The Serbian eagle, a double-headed white eagle is a heraldic symbol with a long history in Serbian heraldry, originating from the medieval Nemanjić dynasty.[3] In modern times it have been part of the coat of arms of Serbia and Order of the White Eagle has been state decoration both in Kingdom of Serbia and contemporary Republic of Serbia. The Serbian national teams in team sports are nicknamed "the Eagles" in reference to the Serbian eagle, while the Serbian national football team in addition uses a stylized Serbian eagle as its emblem.[4]
National motto Само
The phrase "Only Unity Saves the Serbs" is a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serbs, often used as a rallying call during times of national crisis and against foreign domination. The phrase is an interpretation of what is taken to be four Cyrillic letters for "S" (written like Latin "C") on the Serbian cross (Samo sloga Srbina spasava).
National personification Mother Serbia is the female personification of the nation and the metaphoric mother of all Serbs.[5] Serbian national myths and poems constantly invoke Mother Serbia.[6] Most notable depictions of Mother Serbia are found in Belgrade and Kruševac, both sculpted by Đorđe Jovanović. Her depiction is also used on the Serbian identity card.
Salute The three-finger salute is a salute which the thumb, index finger, and middle finger are extending. It originally expressed the Holy Trinity, used in oath-taking, and a symbol of Serbian Orthodoxy, while today simply is a gesture, distinctive sign for the ethnic Serb and a symbol for belonging to the Serbian nation.[7] It is used in wide variety of events: from street demonstrations and celebrations, election campaign rallies, to sporting events and personal celebrations.[8]
Patron saint Saint Sava, also known as Rastko Nemanjić, was a 13th-century Serbian prince and Orthodox monk, founder and first Archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church. At Athos peninsula in Greece, where he became a monk with the name Sava (Sabbas), he established the monastery of Hilandar, the most important Serbian medieval cultural and religious center. Sava authored the oldest known constitution of Serbia, the Zakonopravilo and is regarded the founder of Serbian medieval literature. Widely considered as one of the most important figures of Serbian history, he is honored as the patron saint of Serbia as well as the Serbian education system.[9]
Fathers of the Nation Đorđe Petrović, better known by his sobriquet Karađorđe and by his revolutionary title "the Leader" (Vožd), is a Serbian revolutionary who led the struggle for Serbia's liberation and independence from the Ottoman Empire during the First Serbian Uprising. He is the founder of the Karađorđević dynasty and bears the honorific title Father of the Nation.[10] Order of Karađorđe's Star is one of the highest state decorations in Serbia.
Miloš Obrenović, also known as Miloš the Great (Miloš Veliki), is a Serbian revolutionary who led the struggle for Serbia's liberation and independence from the Ottoman Empire during the Second Serbian Uprising. He is the founder of the Obrenović dynasty and bears the honorific title Father of the Nation.[11]
National animal The eurasian wolf is greatly linked to Serbian mythology and cults.[12][13] In the Serbian epic poetry, the wolf is a symbol of fearlessness.[14] Vuk ("Wolf") is one of the most common Serbian male names, the 3rd most popular name for boys in Serbia in 2021.[15] The wolf is also used as a heraldic symbol, such as on the coat of arms of Merošina and Bajina Bašta municipalities.
National bird The eastern imperial eagle is the national bird of Serbia. It inspired the double-headed Serbian eagle in heraldry.[16][3]
National tree The oak is a national tree of Serbia.[17] The oak branch has been part of the coat of arms of the Principality of Serbia and Socialist Republic of Serbia, symbolizing strength and longevity. During times of Ottoman occupation, when no churches could be built, people prayed under oak trees where they would carve a cross, zapis; some of these oaks are over 600 years old and are considered sacred.[18] The oak is used in the Serbian Christmas tradition of Badnjak.
National flower The Natalie's ramonda flower is considered a symbol of Serbia's struggle and victory in World War I, with country suffering the largest casualty rate relative to its population.[19] To commemorate Serbian soldiers who died in war as well as the resurrection of the country after the devastating war, people wear artificial Natalie's ramonda as a symbol of remembrance, especially during week leading up to Armistice Day, which is a public holiday.[20] The plant was scientifically described in 1884 from specimens growing in the southeastern Serbia, by Sava Petrović and Josif Pančić, who named it after Queen Natalija Obrenović.
National fruit Plum and its products are of great importance to Serbs and part of numerous customs.[21] Serbia is world's second largest producer of the fruit with the hilly region of Šumadija particularly known for its plums.[22][23]
National drink Slivovitz, plum brandy, is the national drink of Serbia. The name "slivovitz" is derived from the name of the drink in Serbian, šljivovica.[24] Serbia is the third largest producer of slivovitz in the world and has a protected designation of origin.[25] Traditionally, slivovitz (often referred simply to as rakija) is connected to Serbian culture as a drink used at numerous folk remedies (such as the patron saint celebration, slava) and is given certain degree of respect above all other alcoholic drinks.
National dishes Serbian cuisine includes pljeskavica (grilled dish consisting of a mixture of spiced minced pork, beef and lamb meat), ćevapčići (grilled dish of minced meat), gibanica (an egg and cheese pie made with filo dough), and Karađorđeva šnicla (breaded cutlet dish of veal or pork steak, stuffed with kajmak).
National monument The Church of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and by gross volume among fifteen largest church buildings in the world. It is dedicated to Saint Sava and built where the Ottomans burnt his remains in 1594, during an uprising in which Serbs used icons of Saint Sava as their war flags. It is the most monumental building in Belgrade and dominates its cityscape.
National art The White Angel, fresco, dated c. 1235, painted by an unknown author in the Mileševa monastery. Considered one of the most beautiful works of Serbian and European art from the High Middle Ages, depicting the arrival of the myrrhbearers at the tomb of Christ, after the events of the Crucifixion. Sitting on the stone is the Angel of the Lord dressed in a white chiton, whose arm shows the place of Christ's resurrection, and his empty tomb.[26][27]
The Kosovo Maiden, painted by Realist Uroš Predić in 1919, depicts the aftermath of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 between Serbia and the Ottoman Empire and is the artistic interpretation of an epic poem "Kosovo Maiden", part of the Kosovo cycle in the Serbian epic poetry. In it, a young beauty searches the battlefield for her betrothed fiancé and helps wounded Serbian warriors with water, wine and bread, finally founding the wounded and dying warrior Pavle Orlović who tells her that her fiancé Milan Toplica and his blood-brothers Miloš Obilić and Ivan Kosančić are dead.
The Migration of the Serbs is a set of four similar oil paintings made by Paja Jovanović between 1896 and 1945. It depict the Serbs, led by Archbishop Arsenije III, fleeing Old Serbia during the Great Serb Migration of 1690–91. It holds iconic status in Serbian popular culture.
National instrument The gusle is a bowed single-stringed musical instrument made of maple wood. It is always accompanied by singing, specifically Serbian epic poetry, by the bards, called guslari, usually in the decasyllable meter. The guslar holds the instrument vertically between his knees, with the left hand fingers on the strings. The strings are never pressed to the neck, giving a harmonic and unique sound. Singing to the accompaniment of the gusle as a part of Serbia's intangible cultural heritage was inscribed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.[28][29][30]
Folk costume The most common folk costume of Serbia is that of Šumadija. It includes šajkača (hat with a V-shaped top, typically black or grey in colour, made of soft, homemade cloth) and opanci (footwear with low back, curved peak at front, with woven front upper, a low back and leather ties).[31][32][33][34]
Folk dance Kolo is a Serbian circle folk dancing. It is usually performed amongst groups of at least three people and up to several dozen people with dancers holding each other's hands and forming a circle, a single chain or multiple parallel lines.[35] The most popular varieties include "Užičko kolo" and "Moravac".[36]
Cultural practice Slava is a tradition of the ritual of glorification of one's family's patron saint, celebrating annually on the saint's feast day. The tradition is an important marker of Serbian identity with traditional slogan saying "Where there is a slava, there is a Serb". The most common feast days are St. Nicholas (Nikoljdan, 19 December), St. George (Đurđevdan, 6 May), St. John the Baptist (Jovanjdan, 20 January), St. Demetrius (Mitrovdan, 8 November), St. Michael (Aranđelovdan, 21 November) and St. Sava (Savindan, 27 January).

See also


  1. ^ The Journal of the Orders & Medals Research Society of Great Britain. Orders and Medals Research Society. 1969. p. 207.
  2. ^ Vojni muzej Jugoslovenske marodne armije (1974). Vesnik. Vol. 19–20. Srpska trobojka: crveno-plavo-belo
  3. ^ a b "Grb Srbije – šta znači dvoglavi beli orao i kako je nastao novi srpski grb". (in Serbian). 13 August 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Dubravka Žarkov; Kristen Ghodsee (13 August 2007). The Body of War: Media, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Break-up of Yugoslavia. Duke University Press. pp. 51–. ISBN 978-0-8223-9018-3.
  6. ^ Renata Salecl (31 January 2002). The Spoils of Freedom: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and Ideology After the Fall of Socialism. Routledge. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-1-134-90612-3.
  7. ^ Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (16 September 2011). Myth, Identity, and Conflict: A Comparative Analysis of Romanian and Serbian Textbooks. Lexington Books. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-7391-4867-9.
  8. ^ Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (16 September 2011). Myth, Identity, and Conflict: A Comparative Analysis of Romanian and Serbian Textbooks. Lexington Books. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-7391-4867-9.
  9. ^ Branko Pešić (1988). Spomen hram Sv. Save na Vračaru u Beogradu: 1895–1988. Sveti arhijerejski sinod Srpske pravoslavne crkve. Отац Отаџбине Св. Сава је надахнуо Немањи- ну државу идеалима хришћанског патриотизма и створио слободну цркву у слободној држави. Држа- ва је Отечество – земља мојих ота- ца. Држава не сме да буде импери- ја, јер где ...
  10. ^ Durde Jelenić (1923). Nova Srbija i Jugoslavija, 1788–1921. p. 56. ОТАЦ ОТАЏБИНЕ – КАРАЂОРЂЕ ПЕТРОВИЋ
  11. ^ Milivoj J. Malenić (1901). Posle četrdeset godina: u spomen proslave četrdesetogodišnjice Sv. Andrejske velike narodne skupštine. U Drž. štamp. Kralj. Srbije. да се на престо српски поврати њен ослободилац и оснивалац: Отац Отаџбине, Милош Обреновић Велики,
  12. ^ Marjanović, Vesna (2005). Maske, maskiranje i rituali u Srbiji. Чигоја штампа. p. 257. ISBN 9788675585572. Вук као митска животиња дубо- ко је везан за балканску и српску митологију и култове. Заправо, то је животиња која је била распрострањена у јужнословенским крајевима и која је представљала сталну опасност како за стоку ...
  13. ^ Brankovo kolo za zabavu, pouku i književnost. 1910. p. 221. Тако стоји и еа осталим атрибутима деспота Вука. Позната је ствар, да и вук (животиња) има зпатну улогу у митологији…У старој српској ре- лигији и митологији вук је био табуирана и тотемска животиња.
  14. ^ Miklosich, Franz (1860). "Die Bildung der slavischen Personennamen" (Document) (in German). Vienna: Aus der kaiserlich-königlichen Hoff- und Staatdruckerei. pp. 44–45.
  15. ^
  16. ^ James Minahan (23 December 2009). The Complete Guide to National Symbols and Emblems [2 Volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 525–. ISBN 978-0-313-34497-8.
  17. ^ Elisabeth Hackspiel-Mikosch; Stefan Haas (2006). Civilian uniforms as symbolic communication: sartorial representation, imagination, and consumption in Europe (18th - 21st century). Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 196. ISBN 978-3-515-08858-9. The oak, symbol of Serbia, symbolized strength, longevity, and the olive branch represented peace and fertility
  18. ^ Andrea Pieroni; Cassandra L. Quave (14 November 2014). Ethnobotany and Biocultural Diversities in the Balkans: Perspectives on Sustainable Rural Development and Reconciliation. Springer. pp. 240–. ISBN 978-1-4939-1492-0.
  19. ^ President honors Serbian WW1 soldiers in Greece: In commemoration of Armistice Day, President Tomislav Nikolić paid homage to fallen Serbian soldiers at the Greek island of Vido.
  20. ^ "Serbia to mark Armistice Day as state holiday". 9 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  21. ^ Stephen Mennell (2005). Culinary Cultures of Europe: Identity, Diversity and Dialogue. Council of Europe. p. 383. ISBN 9789287157447.
  22. ^ "Razvojna agencija Srbije" (PDF).
  23. ^ Grolier Incorporated (2000). The encyclopedia Americana. Grolier. p. 715. ISBN 9780717201334.
  24. ^ Haraksimová, Erna; Rita Mokrá; Dagmar Smrčinová (2006). "slivovica". Anglicko-slovenský a slovensko-anglický slovník. Praha: Ottovo nakladatelství. p. 775. ISBN 978-80-7360-457-8.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "White Angel – the Mileševa monastery". Via Balkans Travel Portal. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  27. ^ "Manastir Mileševa - crkva Belog anđela" [Mileševa Monastery - the Church if the White Angel] (in Serbian). Večernje novosti. 5 August 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  28. ^ Joel Martin Halpern (1967). A Serbian village. Harper & Row. Although the wandering guslari no longer exist, the gusle is considered the national instrument of Serbia, and many village men know how to play it. Almost without exception, all villagers can recite parts of the ballads and children learn them ...
  29. ^ Linda A. Bennett; David Levinson (1992). Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Europe (central, western, and southeastern Europe). G.K. Hall. ISBN 978-0-8161-1811-3. As for the Serbs, the Montenegrin national instrument is the gusle — a single-horsehair wooden instrument stroked with a horsehair bow. The most important function of the instrument is to provide accompaniment for the singing of oral ...
  30. ^ Charles Jelavich (1963). The Balkans in Transition: Essays on the Development of Balkan Life and Politics Since the Eighteenth Century. University of California Press. pp. 107–. GGKEY:E0AY24KPR0E. Sung by bards to the accompaniment of the gusle, the epics reminded the Serbs of their medieval states and promised them a better future. The clergy, hajduks, craftsmen, and ordinary men sang to the gusle. At home, at church gatherings, ...
  31. ^ Dragoljub Zamurović; Ilja Slani; Madge Phillips-Tomašević (2002). Serbia: life and customs. ULUPUDS. p. 194. ISBN 9788682893059.
  32. ^ Deliso, Christopher (2009). Culture and Customs of Serbia and Montenegro. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-313-34436-7.
  33. ^ Resić, Sanimir; Plewa, Barbara Törnquist (2002). The Balkans in Focus: Cultural Boundaries in Europe. Lund, Sweden: Nordic Academic Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-91-89116-38-2.
  34. ^ Mirjana Prošić-Dvornić (1989). Narodna nošnja Šumadije. Kulturno-Prosvjetni Sabor Hrvatske. p. 62. ISBN 9788680825526.
  35. ^ "UNESCO - Kolo, traditional folk dance". Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  36. ^ Ursula Hemetek; Adelaida Reyes; Institut für Volksmusikforschung und Ethnomusikologie--Wien (2007). Cultural diversity in the urban area: explorations in urban ethnomusicology. Institut für Volksmusikforschung und Ethnomusikologie. ISBN 978-3-902153-03-6. They played newly composed folk music as well as kolos such as Uzicko kolo, a very popular dance melody from Serbia. The dance, one of the musical ethnic symbols of Serbia; might allude to Serbian ethnicity; otherwise we did not find any ...