If you’ve travelled to several countries before, you know that the people you interact with can make or break your trip. Meeting warm, welcoming people with rich culture can be a silver lining to an otherwise lukewarm experience or add shine to your travel memories.
This rings especially true when you’re in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The former USSR country weathered tumultuous past and now has emerged as European travel hidden gem. Its blend of rugged natural beauty and hospitality is easy to love, but its people with their intriguing culture and charming traditions will lure you to visit and stay a bit longer. Here are some of their more well-known customs to get familiar with before you head there.
Drinking coffee in Bosnia is more than just a grab-and-go affair—it’s even more than just sipping a beverage. When you’re here, you’ll soon notice that having coffee is considered a social event and perhaps the nation’s favourite pastime. It’s a leisurely affair: you sit down at the café, nurse your strong Bosnian coffee, and spend hours talking to friends or family. No rush and no staring at your phone screen. How refreshing is that?
Treating house guests like family
A guest in a Bosnian household will be treated with boisterous warmth and sent off with a full tummy. The hospitality is supposed to go both ways, so, if you find yourself invited to their house, it’s a good idea to bring small gifts for the host and in return, you’ll be plied with coffee, sweets, and excellent food.
Do note that if your host is a Muslim, it’s a tradition to remove your shoes and put on a pair of slippers before entering the house.
Gift giving is an important extension of Bosnian hospitality and the people’s close ties with friends and family. Gift giving is not limited to just special events like religious holidays or when visiting someone’s house as mentioned above, but also when attending party and even when conducting business. As a rule of thumb, you’re also expected to reciprocate when being gifted.
Folk remedies and superstitions
Superstitions and folk remedies exist everywhere in the world. Some are completely unique, some have overlapping themes with other countries’, and alternative beliefs among Bosnians are no different. For example, no clipping nails after sundown, wearing socks soaked in rakija (fruit brandy) will cure fever, chilling draft entering the room can make you really sick, and so on.
Some Bosnians are still guided by these beliefs, although they might not be taken so seriously by younger generations now. At the very least, they make for interesting ideas and good stories!