Thursday, April 16, 2015

Macedonian Orthodox Easter

          Easter weekend is the biggest holiday weekend of the year here in Macedonia.  It's a four day weekend and one that I'd been looking forward to.  Not only is it the ending of Lent but I had never experienced Easter differently than I had in the States.  So, I took full advantage of the holiday to spend time with my family and counterpart, experience a midnight church service, and explore Ohrid.
          First, I went to Sveti Nikola to visit my PST host family.  I hadn't seen them since November and was only there for one night but it was great catching up.  I drank a lot of coffee with them and my Macedonian has improved enough that we had none of the communication problems I endured during PST.  When I told them my American family wanted to visit when they come this summer   they were very excited.  
          Second, Orthodox Easter does have some of the same traditions that are present back home.  Dying eggs, going to church and having a large family lunch, or, dinner together.  However, the eggs are almost all dyed red to represent the spilled blood of Christ.  Lent is observed for the fasting of meat and oil and the way you to go Church is very different than back home.  

The kids made some very colorful Easter decorations.

Out of all the eggs I saw or were given to me this was my favorite.  It was dyed the old way using onion peels.

I came back from work to find Daniella had already dyed the eggs.
          Now, I didn't get to help prepare the eggs or the food, because I was at work and men aren't allowed to, but a fellow Volunteer did so check her post here for a detailed look inside a traditional Macedonian home.
          Next, since Orthodox Easter is the largest Macedonian holiday Ohrid was packed with tourists.   They were mostly from Macedonia and the Balkans but I saw several European and Asian tour companies too.  Fortunately, my counterpart's daughter, Dorotea, knows everyone in town so we were able to enjoy a couple of hidden patio gems on the lake. I'll be hiding at those spots once the tourists are back.  
Kaneo restaurant and cafe has the best patio in Ohrid.

Victoria was ready for a break too.

Julia and Dorotea, between the two of them they speak seven languages.  
          I joined her and her friend to attend the midnight service at St. Pantelejmon on Plaosnik. It's a gorgeous monastery that sites on top of an ancient archaeological site. 

St. Kliment Pantelejmon at midday.
          Standing outside we held our eggs, Easter egg hunts aren't a thing here, lit our candles and waited for the Priest to finish his sermon.  Normally at the end of the service everyone walks around the church three times but that wasn't possible so instead he said "Христос Воскесе", "Christ has risen" and we answered, "Набистина Воцкпесе", "Yes, he has risen."  I peppered my hosts with questions about the Orthodox traditions but they couldn't answer them all and finally told me that religion isn't meant to be understood only practiced.  I found that to be an appropriate answer.

St. Kliment Pantelejmon at the midnight service.
Egg and candle, check.
Tina and Tea are proof Macedonians can smile in pictures.

          Here's a video of the bells tolling at midnight.

          I was up early the following morning to join the family at our village church.  When I showed up in a tie and jacket they laughed.  After the service I chatted with two older men who were the only men wearing a jacket and tie beside myself.  We had the normal small talk, they asked if I wanted to meet their cousins in New Jersey, where is Tennessee (I always explain it's where they make Jack Daniels), that  living in Yugoslavia was much better and Spring is finally here. Afterwards, it was a full day of na gosti's, drinking rakia, eating lamb and pork and then napping.  

Following the morning service we had rakia with fresh egg salad, јајце, and shopska salata, шопска салата. 
We enjoyed a huge feast for lunch.

Daniella's grandfather enjoyed a prank by watching me eat the hottest pepper in Macedonia.  

          I woke up in time to make it back to the lake to enjoy this sunset:  

No filter, no adjustments just pure beauty.

          Monday, I joined some internationals for a hike to a village overlooking Ohrid. It was a gorgeous site and a nice finish to the holiday.  

Ohrid, the lake, Struga, Albania and the rainclouds in one view.

           Things haven't slowed down since then and next week I'll be in Skopje for our Technical In-Service Training.  After that will be the next holiday, Labor Day on May 1st.   (Lastly, Dos-A-Cero  yet again, well done men!)

No comments:

Post a Comment