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Carnivals for the new sun.

In recent times, carnivals in the world, including Macedonia, have become increasingly more institutionalized, transforming into travel attractions yet maintaining their essential meaning that "everything is allowed in a time the world is recreated." The pagan rituals, from which the cosmogonic myths about the creation of the world derived, transformed into and mixed with the Christian observation of the holidays of "the new religion," creating a tradition of celebrating the cycles of nature's rebirth.

This tradition prevailed through the centuries in the form of carnivals when people felt they had the right to change their looks and be mischievous just as nature is. In the ethnological literature, the ritual of collective masking, or the ritual games under masks, is related to the magic of fertility, that is, the imitative magic of boosting vegetation and fertility.

The best known event taking place on Forgiveness Sunday (Procka) in Macedonia is the Carnival of Strumica, or Trimeri, which has also become part of the World Calendar of Carnivals and a massive tourist attraction in recent years. In the words of ethnologist Ilija Suvariev, the Carnival of Strumica is the oldest and the most authentic event of this kind in Macedonia and beyond. The first written sources of it are the travel records of Evliya Celebi, the traveler who journeyed through the territory of the Ottoman Empire and the neighboring lands in the 17th century. He wrote back in 1670 that one night he found himself in a town where he saw masked people running from one house to another laughing and singing and he was probably referring to Strumica and the local carnival.

The carnival on Procka is one of the landmarks of Prilep as well, the city that has become a member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities.

In Macedonia, the carnivals during the "non-baptized days" between Christmas and St. Vasilij's Day (New Year's Day by the Julian Calendar) are gaining increasingly more popularity. These carnivals are, in fact, related to "the rebirth of the sun," the period after the winter solstice, when days begin to last longer.

In Tetovo, there is a decades-long tradition of spending the night before Badnik (Christmas Eve) under masks by bonfires in all the quarters of the city.

The Carnival of Vevcani on 13 and 14 January satirizes current events, thus creating completely spontaneously an up-side-down image of the place and time we live in. It is said to be more than 14 centuries old and today it is an interesting amalgamation of the pagan and the modern.

Although it has existed for centuries, Dzolomari in the village of Begniste, Tikves region, may be regarded as "the most recently discovered" carnival in Macedonia and it is therefore considered the most authentic.

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Publication:Macedonian Diplomatic Bulletin
Geographic Code:4EXMA
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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