Social practices and knowledge related to the preparation and use of the traditional plum spirit – šljivovica


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Inscribed in 2022 (17.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, 2021

Šljivovica is a traditional plum spirit. The element includes the complex knowledge and skills to prepare the drink in a home environment as well as its use in everyday and ritual practices. The preparation has multiple stages involving families and communities. Plums are usually grown on family farms and harvested in the fall. They are brewed for 20 to 30 days, then distilled in handmade copper vessels, to produce a mild brandy. A second distillation creates a stronger brandy. The last phase is aging in a barrel, usually made of oak, for at least a year. On festive occasions and during family celebrations, šljivovica accompanies toasts expressing wishes for health and well-being. It is also an important part of traditional medicine, with medicinal herbs or fruits added to obtain cold and pain remedies or antiseptics. In winter, mulled brandy is consumed. The practice is generally transmitted within families and communities, with younger members acquiring knowledge over time through gradual involvement in different stages of the šljivovica preparation and use. Women also assign great importance to the transmission of knowledge and skills related to rituals, traditional medicine and gastronomy. Related artisanal knowledge, such as the manufacture of copper vessels, is transmitted in workshops.