Since forever, the society in the Balkans has been influenced by many and various conquerors, from Illyrian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Byzantine, Venice etc. The history, thus, has built a multiconfessional and multi-ethnical structure of communities all over the region. When visiting the Balkans, you will see a lot of churches, mosques, cathedrals, and temples. The people visiting these sacral objects will be equally friendly and kind to tell you more about their traditions and customs if you find it interesting.
We found this topic interesting and important, as there aren’t a lot of places in the world cherishing the patriotic feeling like the Balkans while being proud of the heritage they take from generation to generation.
This April, the year 2023, has turned out to be a month of celebration for all major religious groups in the Balkans. In the same month, two Easter (Catholic first, then Orthodox) and Bayram Ramadan took place. Let us tell you a bit about each of them.
Easter is the happiest Christian holy day when to the Holy Bible, Jesus Christ was resurrected after the crucifixion.
Easter is a holiday when the Christian world is dyeing eggs. The Christian custom of the Easter egg can be traced as far back as the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom and the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection.
Catholic Easter is celebrated following the Julian Calendar, and it always comes in the springtime, somewhere from the end of March until the beginning of May, depending on numerous factors that are important in the Easter date calculation. Read more here.
In many pre-Christian societies, eggs held associations with spring and new life. Early Christians adapted these beliefs, making the egg a symbol of the resurrection and the empty shell a metaphor for Jesus’s tomb.
Same as the Catholic one, Orthodox Easter also comes in the springtime, but on a different date, taking in mind that the Orthodox Churches in the Balkans use the old Gregorian Calendar, except the Greek Orthodox Church.
Amongst followers of Eastern Christianity, the legend says that Mary Magdalene was bringing boiled eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Jesus, and the eggs in her basket miraculously turned bright red when she saw the risen Christ.
In the Orthodox Churches in the Balkans, eggs are usually boiled on the Great Friday and the great feast lasts until Easter Sunday. On Sunday, the feast ends, so families enjoy the ‘eggs fight’, poking one another. Whoever breaks the eggshell of the other, wins. The usual salute in these holy days is Hristos Voskrese, while the response is Vaistinu Voskrese (meaning Christ is Risen – Truly is Risen).
Most of the Church traditions and customs, including the holy mass and holy liturgy, are similar in the Catholic and Orthodox world in the Balkans.
Eid al-Fitr (Bayram Ramadan) is a holiday that marks the end of the month of Ramadan and is usually congratulated with the words ‘Bajram Sherif Mubarek Olsun’ (meaning May the noble Eid be blessed). One of the five great duties of every Muslim is the Ramadan feast, so this puts the month of Ramadan in a very important position in the Islamic religion. During this month, Muslims must abstain from food, drink and sexual relations, every day from dawn to sunset (the bright part of the day).
Ramadan is always on the same date in the Islamic calendar, while the Gregorian calendar date varies since the Gregorian calendar is solar and the Islamic calendar is lunar. Ramadan dates can also vary from country to country, depending on whether or not the Moon has been seen.
These holidays mentioned above are just a peak of the iceberg, as the Balkans do have a lot of celebrations – public and religious. The joyous spirit comes to the surface easily and all the visitors feel spectacular when they get to spend time with locals on these holy or important dates.
Experience the uniqueness of the Balkans with our tours! That is your perfect chance to indulge in this distinctive lifestyle and enjoy it!