Serbs are a highly pleasant, courteous, and hospitable people, particularly in the country’s south.
If you are welcomed into a Serbian house for the first time, be sure to bring them a present. Anything from flowers to chocolate or/and anything symbolic of your nation is acceptable. If you arrive to a rural home, remove your shoes unless the owner expressly instructs you to do so. When you’re inside the home, don’t ask for anything since they’ll almost certainly give it to you. It is polite to request a drink of water if you are thirsty. The host most likely forgot to give you a drink and will do so soon.
It is considered courteous to give an old person or a pregnant lady a seat on a bus or tram.
Because many Serbs are dissatisfied with recent Balkan historical events, it is better to avoid discussing the 1990s Yugoslav Wars or NATO bombardment of Serbia. If the subject is brought up, try to refrain from expressing strong ideas until you get a chance to evaluate your acquaintance’s point of view. Do not express your support for Kosovo’s independence. In addition to the 1999 air strikes, the US’s outspoken support for Kosovar independence generated considerable ill will against the West, especially the US (though this is rarely extrapolated to individual Americans). However, if you share the opinions of the majority of Serbs, some may be ready to debate the issue, and many would be pleased to talk with a Westerner who shares their viewpoints.
Talking about Socialist Yugoslavia and Tito, on the other hand, would not raise as many eyebrows, since most people will not hesitate to speak about it, and some may even approach it with a great love for that more stable and tranquil period. Remember that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence but maintains ties with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia.
Serbs, like those in other ex-Yugoslavia nations, dislike having their country labeled as “Eastern Europe.” One widespread misunderstanding is that Serbia was a member of the Soviet Union (in fact, it was part of Yugoslavia, which split with the Eastern bloc in 1948). While Russia remains disliked in other Eastern European countries owing to its Cold War impact, Russians in Serbia have always been seen as kind, brotherly people. People have no qualms about discussing the communist era or Tito, and they often express nostalgia for it.
When toasting in Serbia, like in most other European nations, establish eye contact. You may be asked to drink gallons, but you must be able to keep your drink steady. Being visibly inebriated is a sign of poor judgment, a lack of character, and worse. Be cautious: “rakija,” a plum spirit (typically about 53% alcohol concentration), is stronger than you would think and can get you drunk quickly! It’s always good to toast in the language of your partner. In Serbian, cheers is iveli.
Don’t point your finger at anybody. This is considered impolite.
Socially, demonstrations of love among the younger age are comparable to those seen in Western Europe, while the elder generation (those over 65) remains very conservative.
In Serbian, the phrase molim (please) is essential for polite communication. It essentially means “please,” but it also implies “you’re welcome,” which is an acceptable answer when someone thanks you (and says hvala). It also implies I humbly ask your pardon? Simply saying ta? (What?) may seem impolite. It may be argued that the usage of the term molim is analogous to the use of bitte in German.
has both formal and informal ways of expressing you, as do most European languages (Vi and ti). When addressing elderly folks, use the formal Vi version. Unless among friends or family, people are not usually called or referred to by their first names.