|Bosnians celebrate a number of religious, secular, and
family holidays. Especially in the cities, where intermarriage is common,
families might celebrate the state New Year holiday, Orthodox and Catholic
Christmas, and New Year's Day, along with such purely secular occasions as
the Day of the Republic. Eastern Orthodox Christian families also
celebrate the Slava, or saint's name day of the family. Muslim festivities
center on Ramadan, the month of ritual fasting associated with the lunar
calendar. Exchanging household visits and small gifts is a particular
feature of the three days at the end of Ramadan (called Bajram). During
this period the minarets of all the mosques (including the uniquely
Bosnian lighthouse-style wooden minaret) are illuminated with strings of
electric lights. Public religious occasions, like the 450th anniversary of
the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque in Sarajevo (since hit numerous
times by Serbian shelling), or Mass for the Christmass often attracted
quite large crowds.
On a more secular level, weddings are a major time of celebration, as was army induction day, when young men would leave for their compulsory national service. Soccer matches could draw huge crowds of home-team fans surging through the streets. Folklore festivals and folklore competitions between amateur performing groups were a major feature of contemporary Bosnian life. Bosnian amateur folklore groups, called Cultural Art Societies, were found throughout the republic. They were required to perform the dance, music, and song folklore of all three major ethnicities in Bosnia. It is interesting to note here that no Bosnian Cultural Art Society was ever allowed to specialize in the folklore of just one group. Successful performances at local festivities could earn such a society the privilege of performing abroad, generally touring Yugoslav guest worker communities in Western Europe.