In Serbia, Sunday lunch is of the utmost importance. It’s a time for rest, a time when every family member is home, no matter what. This story is about five families who live on the same street in Čurug, the northern Serbian village where I grew up. It is a village of just 8,000 people, most of whom are Orthodox Christian farmers.

Growing up, every time I went to visit my grandma I felt like I was entering a whole other world; a world of adventure and grand experience. My grandma said I was the “house mouse” because I was always playing in her room, usually alone or with my friend, Maša. We would make up stories and draw princess castles and fortresses in my cozy room upstairs. I would draw until I used every sheet of paper in the house.

As much as I loved this place, I knew it wasn’t where I completely belonged. And, like many others who lived on my street, I grew up and moved away. Some enrolled in universities; some got married; many now have children. All changed and became distant — but every Sunday we return to the same place — home for Sunday lunch.

My grandmother, my uncle, and Djole, Grandma’s favorite cat. Grandma likes listening to loud music and ordering songs on the radio. My uncle is the strongest, loudest guy on the block.
My grandmother, my uncle, and Djole, Grandma’s favorite cat. Grandma likes listening to loud music and ordering songs on the radio. My uncle is the strongest, loudest guy on the block.
Sunday lunch at the Ivkovs’.
Sunday lunch at the Ivkovs’.
This pheasant was one of the ingredients used in the soup made for Sunday lunch.
This pheasant was one of the ingredients used in the soup made for Sunday lunch.
Grandma in the backyard with hams.
Grandma in the backyard with hams.
A photo of grandpa hangs on a wall in grandma's bedroom.
A photo of grandpa hangs on a wall in grandma’s bedroom.
My other uncle with his wife and children, the Stojsins. I spent all of my childhood with them. They taught me how to ride a bicycle. We used to sneak into our aunt's room and read her text messages. When she caught us, she usually spanked us.
My other uncle with his wife and children, the Stojsins. I spent all of my childhood with them. They taught me how to ride a bicycle. We used to sneak into our aunt’s room and read her text messages. When she caught us, she usually spanked us.
Sunday lunch at the Stojsins’.
Sunday lunch at the Stojsins’.
A warm home on a cold December Sunday.
A warm home on a cold December Sunday.
Watching television is my uncle's favorite Sunday ritual.
Watching television is my uncle’s favorite Sunday ritual.
A pig's head, left over from the Sunday feast.
A pig’s head, left over from the Sunday feast.
The Topalski family lives across my grandma’s house. They are known for their homemade hams and sausages. The children were named after their grandparents, Jova and Radmila. Their grandfather was a cool old man. When I was seven, I smoked my first cigarette with him. He said that he wouldn't tell anyone, and he didn't. Luckily I never liked cigarettes. He died a few years ago of lung problems. My grandma says that his wife Radmila was the kind of person you don't meet twice. She often tells me stories about their trips to Czechoslovakia.
The Topalski family lives across my grandma’s house. They are known for their homemade hams and sausages. The children were named after their grandparents, Jova and Radmila. Their grandfather was a cool old man. When I was seven, I smoked my first cigarette with him. He said that he wouldn’t tell anyone, and he didn’t. Luckily I never liked cigarettes. He died a few years ago of lung problems. My grandma says that his wife Radmila was the kind of person you don’t meet twice. She often tells me stories about their trips to Czechoslovakia.
Lunch at the Topalskis.
Lunch at the Topalskis.
The Topalskis keep their houseplants in this green room during the winter.
The Topalskis keep their houseplants in this green room during the winter.
Radmila does her cousin's hair on a Sunday.
Radmila does her cousin’s hair on a Sunday.
This is the Loncarski family. Nice yard. Neat stables. Full pantry. They love when their mom makes the national Serbian dish sarma. Milkica, right, is known as a good cook. My mom says when they were really young, Milkica already knew a lot of recipes.
This is the Loncarski family. Nice yard. Neat stables. Full pantry. They love when their mom makes the national Serbian dish sarma. Milkica, right, is known as a good cook. My mom says when they were really young, Milkica already knew a lot of recipes.
Lunch at the Loncarskis’.
Lunch at the Loncarskis’.
Patterns in the Loncarskis’ dining room.
Patterns in the Loncarskis’ dining room.
A hen and fresh eggs in the Loncarskis’ backyard.
A hen and fresh eggs in the Loncarskis’ backyard.
Stevan Lonarski holds a lamb in front of the stable.
Stevan Lonarski holds a lamb in front of the stable.
The Dejanovic family recently moved onto the street. I see them playing outside all the time, reminding me of when we were kids. We also played outside with our grandma, usually football and dodgeball. Grandma was always a shooter and I was always the first to be out.
The Dejanovic family recently moved onto the street. I see them playing outside all the time, reminding me of when we were kids. We also played outside with our grandm
a, usually football and dodgeball. Grandma was always a shooter and I was always the first to be out.
Lunch at the Dejanovics.
Lunch at the Dejanovics.

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Teodora Ivkov was born in Novi Sad, Serbia, and is currently a student at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, department of photography.

The photo essays featured on Narratively this week were originally developed as part of Family. Life. a collaborative student project initiated by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. The project explores the feelings, relationships, obstacles, and identities of families through visual stories produced by photography schools around the world.