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The carnival of Vevchani

Jan 14 2020

One of the most famous village festivals in the Balkans is the Vevčani carnival. It is believed to be more than 1,400 years old. It is based on ancient pagan beliefs and rituals. Essentially, the Carnival is the ritual of summoning Saint Basil the Great, which coincides with the Twelve Days of Orthodox Christmas and the Orthodox New Year. The feast is dedicated to Saint Basil the Great. Traditionally, the Vevcani Carnival is held this year from 12 to 14 January, one of the oldest cultural events in Macedonia, which traditionally celebrates the arrival of the new year according to the old calendar.

The participants of the Carnival are known as "Vasiličari".  The annual Carnival is a mix of pagan customs translated into modern language.  In 1993, the Carnival and the village of Vevčani were officially separated from the World Federation of Carnival Cities. In recent years a special "Carnival Passport" has been issued during the Carnival. The Carnival of Vevcani, which claims a 14th century legacy, is held every year from 13 to 14 January in the southwestern Macedonian village of Vevcani. Recognized by the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC), the Carnival attracts thousands of domestic and international visitors to see the people of Vevcani disguised in elaborate masks expressing humour and sarcasm. Some of the most common costumes are devils, demons and other mythical figures. During the raw work, traditional music is played on zurlas (a traditional double reed woodwind instrument) and drums. Participants who do not have instruments enjoy the sound of bells, pots and pans, baking and everything else. The lively Vevcani carnival is one of the best in Macedonia.

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