The cultural perspectives of rakia


Rakia is a high alcohol spirit considered as a treasure in Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Bosna&Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro. The beverage could be produced through the distillation of any fruits that contain sugar, but most often are used grapes and plums (there is s a video below).

One of the soldiers enlighted in the art of drinking rakia

History of Rakia

There is no specific information what are the origins of this magical drink, but the conventional wisdom claims that it has derived to Balkans from the nobility of the  Ottomans. On the contrary, the archaeological evidence has found the oldest rakia distillation container in the city of Pernik in Bulgaria. Furthermore, there were reports of Roman commanders that led the siege of the Bulgarian town, that they encountered heavy resistance and “the defence of the city was entrusted to strong, healthy Bulgarians“with moustaches” that before battle drank rakia and so became invincible ”. All these facts suggest rakia was consumed among Bulgarians,  already in XI century AD. So if you want to be invincible and feel no pain and all, drink Rakia as much as possible.

The cultural message of rakia

Personal experience with rakia.

From a cultural point of view, a toast with the traditional beverage is a must on each Bulgarian table during various festivals, important ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and holidays. In addition, consuming rakia demands cultural knowledge and competence as it is a unique, traditional beverage. Drinking rakia is usually related to particular activities. The most popular one is saying “Cheers!” (Bulgarian:“ Nazdrave!” literally translated “To be healthy”) while knocking the glasses and looking each other in the face. Hitting the glasses has anisotropic sense like knocking the red-coloured eggs at Easter. Both actions are intended to ward off evil spirits that could disturb the household. Looking in the eyes can be the way of showing directness, reducing the distance between the participants. Traditionally, rakia is consumed at home by men and women, and an invitation for drinking could be considered as an intention for establishing a friendship or intimate relationship.

Rakia through the different cultural approaches

The emic-etic approaches are two different ways used in anthropology and social science in general, explaining traditions and cultural practices that affect human behaviour. The emic approach is the perspective of the observed social group. All explanations, logic, meanings, beliefs and etc. of the examined social group are used to explain the particular values, beliefs or practices. Viewed through the emic approach, the production and the massive consumption of rakia is something mandatory, a sign for manliness and prerequisite for a pleasurable time and massive enjoyment. 

The etic approach provides the view of the observer towards the observed cultural reality. Quite often, the etic perspective is critical and contradicts with the mutual standpoint. In this case, the report of the World Health Organization could be estimated as eticIt claims that drinking rakia and alcohol increases the chance of psychosis, mortality among young adults and has a harmful effect on society in general.


The technology


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