There is a large ethnic Albanian population in Macedonia, particularly in the capital Skopje. Most of the Orthodox Christians are and speak Macedonian (a Slavic language), while the ethnic Albanians are of Islamic heritage and speak Albanian (Shqip). This is most evident in the Old City with its several mosques and at places like the Mother Teresa Museum and Church.
Last summer I attended this wedding in Skopje. The photo shows some of the traditional elements -- the candles, the crowns and the bread & salt. We were lucky -- it can go on for hours -- but the couple had bargained down to 45 minutes!
PLease click on the picture for the detail.
I've never helped...but I've seen it being made ! In September the fragrant smell of roasting peppers wafts through the air in Skopje, and all around Macedonia. It is a labor of love making ajvar..because first you have to roast and skin all the peppers, and chop up all the other ingredients to go in the pot. You can buy ajvar in the stores, but the best is homemade !!
Rakija is one of the local spirits of Macedonia. You can buy it in stores, but if you are lucky, maybe one of your neighbors makes his own .... and you can sample it. If you see a homemade still, and steam pouring out of it ...most likely they are making Rakija. The first distallates which come off the still are not high enough alcohol content, and so are not for drinking. They are however used for window washing, engine de-greasing, etc.
Be understood in Macedonian, don't be a stranger in a strange land!!!
Many Macedonians speak English or German, so it won't be a problem for a dialogue. But it's sure that you will be a lot more comfortable if you know few words and expressions in Macedonian.
The Macedonian language belongs to the Slavic group of languages, and the alphabet is Cyrillic.
Macedonians use Cyrilic alphabet. If you would like to learn it before coming to Macedonia, just click here.
A polite way of asking fo something means saying MOLAM (please), and to show your gratitude and appreciation you say BLAGODARAM (thank you). Your sweet morning dreams are going to be interrupted by DOBRO UTRO (good morning), while coming early after having a great ZABAVA (party) you will usually say DOBRA NOK (good night) to each other. A customary way of greeting a friend is ZDRAVO (hello) and you say CIAO (bye) when you are leaving.
To Macedonia, you will come either by VOZ (train) or AVION (plane) and your everyday trips around Skopje will be made easier by AVTOBUS (bus).
While spending your nights in a DISKO (disco), where the music could be LOSA (bad) but the opposite sex could be DOBRO (good), you might also be compelled to say TE SAKAM (I love you), asking STO PRAVIS VECER? (what are you doing tonight), or saying UBAVA SI (you look beautiful) to a girl.
All those wild parties will probably make you ZEDEN (thirsty) and even GLADEN (hungry). A variety of food can be used to remedy, such as LEB (bread), SIRENJE (cheese), or TORTA (cake).You will learn to fight thirst with SKOPSKO PIVO (Skopsko beer), or VINO (wine). Some other time you might want to order CAJ (tea) or KAFE (coffee) with SEKER (sugar) or MLEKO (milk).
I visited Skoje during the International Children Folk Festival, one of the many summer events here.