A Slava (Крсна Слава also Крсно Име it means "celebration") is the celebration of the family's patron saint. It is primarily known as a Serbian custom: when the disciples of Sts. Cyril and Methodius were converting ancient Serbia, they replaced the pagan custom of the household divinity with a family patron saint. However, this is not an exclusively Serbian custom, as it is also known among the Bulgars, the Albanian, and even in parts of Greece and Romania. A saint was determined by the day on which the household was baptized. Serbs do not celebrate a family Slava instead of an individual nameday (onomastik), but rather in addition to their namedays. The most common Slavas are St. John the Baptist, St. George, and St. Nicholas of Myra.
Slava is a day not only of feasting, but also a day of spiritual revival through which the Serbian national soul is formed and crystallized. To these celebrations, customs, and traditions, our nation owes its existence, and, therefore, deserves to be appreciated and perpetuated by all grateful Serbian sons and daughters all over the world. The living example of the Patron Saint gives to the celebrant assurance, persistence, and the feeling of protection, support, and the encouragement to do good. For that reason, we hear among our people the ancient saying: "Ко Славу слави њему и помаже".
Because Krsna Slava is regarded as the anniversary of the baptism of the family into Christianity, it is an annual reaffirmation of the family to its baptismal vows and the renewal of its ties to the Orthodox faith and church.
The commemoration of Krsna Slava was to Serbian ancestors one of the most important expressions of their Orthodox faith. So they always celebrated their Krsna Slava, regardless of how dangerous the situation. In our long suffering history, the state and freedom ceased to exist, but in our homes, the candle of our Patron Saint never was extinguished.
The Serbian Krsna Slava links, as a golden string, our past and our present, our ancestors and their descendants. Serbian people should never ignore their Krsna Slava because through it the Orthodox faith was preserved and they were held together through the centuries. Krsna Slava should be kept not only as a sacred custom, but also to attest to the sacred truth that "Where the Serb is, Slava is also" .
The celebration of Krsna Slava requires the Icon of the family Patron Saint and several items that symbolize Christ and the believer's faith in his death and resurrection: a lighted candle, Slava’s (кољиво) wheat, Slava's bread (Славски колач), and red wine.
The lighted candle reminds us that Christ is the Light of world. Without Him we would live in darkness. Christ's light should fill our hearts and minds always, and we should not hide the Light of Christ in our lives.
Slava’s wheat represents the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ reminded us that except a grain of wheat die it cannot rise again, even as it was necessary that He die, be buried, and on the third day rise again so that we all can triumph over death. The Slavа's wheat is prepared as an offering to God for all of the blessings we have received from Him; it also is to honor the Patron Saint and to commemorate our ancestors who lived and died in the Orthodox faith.
The Serbs in particular, but also many Albanians, Bulgars, and even Romanians and Greeks, observe not only their individual name day (onomastik), but also their family patronal feast, which is dedicated to the saint of the feast commemorated on the day in which their first ancestor was baptized. Families keep with great honor an icon of this saint or feast which is passed from generation to generation, and observe the day with a Krsna Slava Service at home, which is lead by the priest, or in his absence, by the domachin (head of the family).
Various Serbian communities (villages, cities, organisations, political parties, institutions, companies, professions) also celebrate their patron saint: for example, Belgrade celebrates the Ascension as its slava.
Although primarily a custom of the Balkans, some converts to Orthodox Christianity in the West have also adopted the custom of having a family patron saint and celebrating the krsna slava service, oftentimes with its traditional Serb elements, on the saint's feast day.