Moji su drugovi biseri rasuti po celom svetu
(My friends are like pearls scattered all around the world)
This beginning of a Bajaga’s song (a beloved musician in Serbia) hits hard at Serbian weddings and other celebrations. Everybody immediately stops what they are doing and gathers to form a neverending conga line (the popular vozić – little train) to sing their heart out. Watch the crowd go wild here.
What’s going on with the vozić phenomenon, you may wonder. The song is about a reunion of old friends who live and work scattered worldwide and have a chance to meet in their home country, Serbia, once in a blue moon. They celebrate their gathering in a kafana (pub/tavern), where they toast, drink, and cry.
Our Bajaga tells you that you’ll find Serbian people everywhere around the globe, from Alaska to Australia, and he’s got a point. Wherever you are from, the chances are you’ll hear some Serbian phrases at least once in your lifetime. Or if you are lucky enough, Serbs will constitute the majority of your neighborhood.
Good Evening, Europe, This Is Serbia Calling!
Killer trending songs are one reason why Serbia ranks high in Eurovision Song Contest. The other reasons are Serbian people living all around Europe and their friends and neighbors who fall in love with our music and vote for us. If you live in any of the following countries, you’ve already met a Serb. If you by any chance haven’t yet, don’t worry, you will anytime soon.
Germany - The Promised Land
The number of Serbs in Germany (Nemačka, as we call it) equals somewhere between the overall population of Bonn (300k) and Dresden or Leipzig (500k). Serbian people have been emigrating to Germany for years in search of jobs. Whether you work in the medical field, or at construction sites, you must meet a Serb at some point.
Serbs might consider Germans to be distant and cold, but we admire German discipline, the quality of life, and cars. You will recognize a gastarbajter (Gastarbeiter in German, guest worker) when they come to Serbia on holiday and boast their new Mercedes or BMW around the old hood. JK, this is a bit of a stereotype, but our love for those cars is real.
Austria - There’s No Place Like Home
Have you heard of the Ottoman Empire? Yes, it existed many centuries ago. That’s the time when the first Serbian people started calling Austria their new home. More Serbs are living in Vienna (Beč) than in the majority of towns in Serbia, making it the second-biggest most popular foreign city (around 163k Serbian population).
The most notable Serb who lived for some time in Vienna, worked, and died there is Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. If you are into our language, you must know this name. The man is the greatest modern reformer of Serbian that you’re learning and speaking today. Not to mention that Goethe and Jacob Grimm praised him. Vienna has also embraced numerous Serbian painters, writers, poets, and sportspeople.
Is Winter Favourite Season In Serbia? - The North Remembers
Foreigners say that Serbs resemble warm, temperamental, and hot-blooded Spanish people, but Spain isn’t the third most popular country for Serbian people. Expect the unexpected – we prefer central Europe – Switzerland (Švajcarska), and the colder north – Sweden (Švedska).
Mileva Marić, one of the greatest physicists and mathematicians ever (you might know her as Albert Einstein’s wife), moved to Zürich for work and education. Those are the most common reasons for Serb migration to Switzerland in general. The Swedish say that we integrate into their society so well that they’d never guess where we’re from.
Some other “colder” countries where you can meet Serbs are:
Across The Ocean
The USA - Chicago, The Second Serbian Capital
Belgrade has a population of around 1.5 million Serbs, followed by Chicago (300k). You frowned at the previous sentence, didn’t you? Chicago isn’t in Serbia, but more Serbs live there than in Novi Sad, the second-largest city in our country. Other places that our people have swarmed include Los Angeles, New York City, and Milwaukee.
Hold your breath and focus so as not to miss any important piece of the following fun fact. Đorđe Šagić (George Fisher), the first Serbian to become a USA citizen, was born in Hungary in 1795 and was meant to become a priest, but he left school to fight and defend Belgrade from Turks, only to end up in Philadelphia and then head for Mexico where he got a job to settle 500 families in Texas. Ok, you look pale now, breathe again. Đorđe, who had several names and four wives, was an early leader of the Texas Revolution, and a Consul for Greece in San Francisco, where he died in 1873.
Some of the most prominent scientists ever, that happen to be Serbs, also lived in America. You must’ve heard about Nikola Tesla and Mihajlo Pupin. If you haven’t, start by reading these interesting facts.
Canada - Serbian Cultural Center
Serbian people weren’t immune to the love of gold, so many of them settled in Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 19th century. Today, around 100,000 Serbians live in Canada, a third of them in Toronto.
If you meet a Serb in Canada, they’ll introduce you to the Serbian language, tradition, and customs, and they’ll take you to try the best Balkan food in Toronto. You can also expect an invitation to a slava (family saint’s day celebration).
Australia - The Land Of Serbian Soccer
Did you know that there are almost 20 Serbian soccer clubs in Australia? Serbian people have played a main role in the development of soccer in the land Down Under. If you want to speak Serbian in Australia, you should visit Sydney or Melbourne and you’ll find an interlocutor.
A Serb in Australia has managed to:
- Become the world’s most renowned motivational speaker (Nik Vujicic)
- Become a senator (Alex Antic)
- Be a female tennis legend (Jelena Dokić)
- Pursue a successful career in acting and singing (Bojana Novaković, Holly Valace)
- Rule the catwalk (Vedrana Grbović, Monika Radulović, Andreja Pejić)
We’ve probably forgotten something. But don’t worry, our Australians will tell you the rest.