Serbia: “Elegy For a Swine”

Many Serbs traditionally celebrate Orthodox Christmas by firing rifles and pistols, and consuming lots of homemade plum brandy and pork.

Serbian bloggers have been writing about their Jan. 7 feasts for days now, but one of them – Jelica Greganović – instead of composing her own sentences about it, posted an 1887 satirical poem by Serbian poet Vojislav Ilić.

The poem is dedicated to the chief victim of Serbian Christmas celebration – a pig:

Elegy For a Swine

What’s the fuss? What’s going on?!
Master of the house is looking at me with a smile and big appetite.

This awful custom has been there for a long time,
A swine is always killed when Christ is born.

I’ve been reading books from ancient times,
And I found various things there.

They are true Orthodox believers when Christmas is celebrated,
And then the first stick hits my head.

Everything happens, all kinds of wonders,
But an Orthodox pig is unhappy everywhere.

Oh my god, who would wait for such a death?
Hey, the river Danube, why don’t you take me across?

For this holiday doesn’t suit me well,
Because that’s something a poor pig wants least of all.

A pig plays and rolls in the mud,
Doesn’t care if the mud is making it dirty.

When there’s no sign of conscience and wit,
When it only thinks of what could he eat.

Whenever Orthodox believers celebrate Christmas,
The first stick hits my head.

Good-bye to my mud and sows, my sisters,
Good-bye to the quiet fields and rich forests.

Because I won’t roll in the mud anymore
The last hour is ticking on my clock.

Ah, who would wait for that terrible moment?
Hey, the river Danube, why don’t you take me across?!

This post has received 134 comments, and here are two of them:


I had a naive opinion that we'll celebrate this Christmas without a piglet on the table because I didn't know where we could find it here? Here the piglets are more like pets. If the Swedes saw them on the spit, they would declare us for much more barbarians. I think that all the wars would be forgotten. They would spread a rumor around Europe: “Barbarians, they barbecue piglets”… My boyfriend told me a few years ago, when I still lived in Serbia, that he had seen a girl strolling with a black piglet downtown. It was wonderful!!! […] Anyway, I thought there'd be no piglet, but mama (mother-in-law) found a way to send her son shoulder blades of a piglet, so that he could glorify God in a proper way! […] I didn't hope that mama will find a way to send pork from Serbia.


I will have broccoli for breakfast on Christmas. Europeans, Euro-Atlantic educators, changers of consciousness and system of social values, wait for me.

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