Balkan trivia: Scare away the bad things in the new year

Zlata Golaboska | Live the World

November 23, 2022

I was reading Federico's impressions of Galaxidi, and I got inspired to tell you more about one carnival that takes place in Vevcani. This is a village near Struga, Western Macedonia. It takes place on 13 and 14th of January and it is one of the oldest carnivals in Europe. This is New years eve according to the old calendar. As the craziest night in the year, it is celebrated like that. Many interesting stories you can find while reading about my insiders stories presented as Balkan Trivia.

The ones that takes part in these rituals, are Vasilichari. These are masqued groups or individuals, that follows certain roles organized by neighbourhoods in the village. So each part of the village have to have a groom, a bride, musicians, devils, and most characteristic one, the Stupid August. This role is usually taken by young and energetic people, because being the Stupid August requires good physical condition. He acts with certain aggressiveness towards the audience to protect the bride and the groom. He communicates only by screaming and shouting.

This role is acted ever since the ancient times. Along with these traditional roles, there are roles that are inspired by trending topics, mostly political. Political situation in Macedonia is crazy enough, so people in Vevcani can’t stay without inspiration, fortunate or not. For two days the village is covered in festiveness, loud music makes earthquakes, and the people are gathering and singing, dancing, and drinking… The remaining 363 days, people in this village are preparing for the 13 and 14th of January. Groups of domestic people are walking around, knocking on peoples doors, singing songs, blessing the house and they are rewarded with raw meat, a piece of bread, and money. Colorful, loud, and crazy experience, let us sum it up in this way. Even though it is old, in a traditional way, It is a fun way to scare away everything bad that can come with the new year. Sing and dance, and hope for good times only!

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