Well, American Christmas approaches….Over here they follow the Orthodox calendar which celebrates Christmas on January 7th. So I get to celebrate 2 Christmases this year. For the first one on December 25th I will travel to Veles (pretty close to the center of the country) and hang out with 20 fellow PC Volunteers for the weekend. We will be ‘crashing’ in 3 apartments of fellow volunteers, cooking Christmas dinner together and doing a gift exchange of some sort.
Today I left the Municipality at 1:00 and went up to the High School. I taught 5 English classes presenting “Happy Holidays–how we celebrate in America” covering Christmas and New Years. Four of the classes were combined-about 50 kids, and the last one was only 25. It was truly fun and a chance to remember how very much I love doing presentations and teaching. There were photographs taken to put on the community web site and I got to ask the kids questions about how THEY celebrate. (They were pretty shy, but I hope to do this once a quarter and hope they’ll loosen up as they get to know me.) But it was a pretty long day as I was at work at 8:00 am and didn’t get home until 7:30 pm. My cat was glad to see me…….
As far as the Macedonian Christmas, there are a lot of similarities including decorations on the street lights of the town, some (modest by our standards) lights on the houses and store fronts, and family Christmas trees. So here’s what I’ve learned about Macedonian celebration of Christmas:
- Christmas Eve is a big deal. The kids dress up in costumes like American kids dress up on Halloween. They go door to door getting treats and trinkets.
- Children get gifts Christmas morning–but they weren’t brought by Santa Clause because he came on New Years Eve the week before! (Remember they celebrate Christmas January 7th.)
- They go to church, but it’s not like our church ‘services’. They go, light a candle or candles, pray, ‘be’ in the holy place, and go home.
- Christmas Dinner is with family and roast pork is traditional. Stuffed grape leaves are traditional on New Years. But each family figures out it’s own specialties and there aren’t any real ‘rules’.
- They don’t give gifts to family members older than 10 or so.
I report these things in advance, but obviously haven’t yet ‘lived’ a Macedonian Christmas, so I will correct myself if need-be after January 7th. In the mean time I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and the Peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ who was born so that we might live.