The fireplace was the central place or hearth of the house and family around which the family gathered, where they talked and solved household problems. It is often said or we have had the opportunity to hear: “No one will drive me out of the hearth!”, “I will guard my hearth!”, “I will return to my grandfather’s hearth!”, “This is our ancient hearth!”

Thus we repeat the vow, sometimes unconsciously, of the same depth and strength as the generations before us directed to the hearth.

One of curses, still considered most difficult is: “Let your hearth be desolated” or in the variant “Let the fire on your hearth is numb”, is an imperative folk proverb: “Do not leave the doorstep and hearth”!

The reasons for mentioning the hearth lie in the specific role it played in ancient times. It was a place of light, a place of common gathering of the family,  a common prayer. A place of warmth in the winter days, a place where food was prepared. So everything that fire represents to man, it also represents the place where fire is lit.

In addition to the people mentioning the hearth in the oaths, there are also testimonies, that our ancestors swore on the hearth itself, which was considered the same as if they had taken the oath in a holy place. The hearth was also represented a place of calming down and solving problems.

That is why our people have introduced a large number of customs related to the hearth, one part of which is prohibitions. The hearth must not have collapsed or been damaged.

The hearth must not be cursed, it must not be spat upon or dishonored. No human filth may come upon it, nor be trampled upon.

Nowadays, many hearths have been forgotten, some have long been abandoned, some have been extinguished long ago.

Written by Dalila Šečić

Translated by Alma Gadžo

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