Plum brandy - sljivovica inscribed on the UNESCO list

On 1st December 2022, the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity added a traditional drink from Serbia

Wednesday 7th of December 2022

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The 17th session of the intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of this heritage led to the inscription of sljivovica - plum spirit on the list of intangible cultural heritage. In 2021, the Ministry of Culture nominated a favorite drink from Serbia, and the nomination itself was prepared by the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia at the Ethnographic Museum with the participation of heritage holders, local communities, institutions, non-governmental organizations and associations. The proponents are the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade and the National Museum in Cacak.

The nomination, which brings together the culture of plum cultivation, traditional crafts, food culture and customs, as well as distilling of plum spirit and its use during private or public events, reflects the wide spread of the element and best shows how traditional skills and practices can be developed in a modern environment, preserving its importance even in the conditions of the development of modern society, according to the Ministry of Culture.

So far, the list of intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO from Serbia has included slava, celebration of family saint patron’s day (2014), kolo, traditional folk dance (2017), singing to the accompaniment of the Gusle – a simple string instrument (2018) and Zlakusa pottery making (2020).

What you need to know about sljivovica

The drink found in every home is obtained by processing plums. Most often, male members of the family do most of the work, and the other members are involved in picking and collecting plums as well as in related work. In order to make brandy, it is necessary to transfer the fruit to the fermentation tank where the production process begins. In Serbia, making brandy is a unique ritual that is passed down from generation to generation and involves entire families, neighborhoods and friends.

Brandy is a drink that is consumed every day, especially in winter, but also on all festive occasions, from birthdays, to the birth of a child, weddings, business celebrations, etc. A speech is often given, followed by a toast. Brandy is also part of the service at a funeral when it is drunk for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

Almost every household, especially in rural areas, is engaged in the production of brandy, and statistics show that the most brandy is produced in the territory of western, eastern and central Serbia.