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BITS OF CULTURE - Bosnia and Herzegovina
 
Languages
Geography
Cultural Values
Main Religion & Death Concepts/Rituals
Health Care Values
Diet
Interesting Facts
 

Languages

Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian)
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Geography


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Cultural Values
  • Removing one's shoes is customary in Muslim households; the host family will provide slippers.
  • The family is the focus of life and religion plays an important part in people's lives. Many Bosnians are Muslims, for whom Islam is both their religion and a way of life. In Muslim society the aged are regarded as valuable members of the family, providing a wealth of Islamic knowledge. They reinforce family values and assist in raising children.
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Main Religion & Death Concepts/Rituals
  • Islam

Death Concepts/Rituals

  • Mourning is a prescribed way of dealing with death and wailing is practiced.
  • A cemetery burial is usual, following the tradition of the appropriate reigion.
  • Islam encourages burial as soon as possible, preferably on the day of death. Cremation is forbidden.
  • In the Orthodox religion, cremation is not permitted because it is believed that we are made from earth and that we shall return to the earth. Elaborate mausoleums may be used.
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Health Care Values
  • Bosnians generally do not have an understanding of palliative care.
  • News is traditionally given to the family, but this varies with the patient. The family normally passes on the news to relatives and friends.
  • Treatment options are normally discussed at a family level and then a decision is made. Family support is strong, with many visitors to alleviate boredom and distress.
  • It is important for professionals to show compassion and understanding.
  • Volunteers may not be welcomed in the family home, as Bosnians are not used to this concept. The family and friends usually provide all the support needed. If a volunteer is sent to a family home, he/she has to be strongly recommended as an expert.
  • Giving morphine is usually regarded as a sign of being "near the end" and this can increase anxiety.
  • Check whether medications contain alcohol or ingredients made from pigs (applicable for practicing Muslims).
  • Cancer is sometimes seen as punishment and that it could be inherited. Also that it may be contagious.
  • Do not point at the location of a cancer, because this "invites trouble". It is acceptable to describe a location in words.

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Diet
  • Members of all groups favor a diet that is heavy on roast meats and bread. Bosanski lonac (a stew of cabbage and meat), baklava (a Turkish sweet) and the ubiquitous servings of burek and pida (layered cheese or meat pies).
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Interesting Facts
  • Bosnia takes its name from the Bosna River that runs through it, Hercegovina from the herceg (duke) who ruled the southern portion of the region until the 15th-century Turkish conquest.
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