I was born in Canada, and my Serbian parents met and married in Hamilton, Ontario. They came from very different regions and backgrouds: my mom from a family of merchants and vintners from Knin Northern Dalmatia, with family connections to Banja Luka in Bosnia and having studied in the beautiful Dalmatian coastal town of Split; dad, born in a small village between Leskovac and Vranje the Southern Morava valley – a day’s hike from Kosovo – growing up in Čajetina, on the Zlatibor mountain area of Western Serbia, and spending time as a cadet in Subotica on the Hungarian border.
They never forced my heritage on me. We spoke Serbian, we followed the Orthodox faith, but their love for their own heritage and history was demonstrated as easily as they breathed. Dad played the frula, a Serbian folk instrument, danced well, spoke in proverbs and knew folk remedies; mom could embroider, sang Serbian folk and old urban songs, and produced the turkish-influenced sticky sweets of the Balkans effortlessly. She was the one who actually insisted that, at the age of eight, I join our community folklore group.
I didn’t stop dancing for a quarter century.
Through all of this, I came under the spell of the beauty and diversity of Serbian folk costumes. I began collecting seriously as a university student, and haven’t stopped. As I approach retirement, I felt the need to share this. And, here we are.