Saturday, December 23, 2006

The holiday spirit

It seems that Kosovars manage to get into the holiday spirit even though they don't know for sure what the future holds for them. In fact, the holiday season this year is very interesting. As some of you might know, Kosova has two Christmasses: one is the Western Christmass celebrated by Catholic and Protestant Albanians (and virtually all other types of Albanians in a secular way); the other is the Eastern Orthodox Christmass, celebrated by Kosova Serbs. Both of these are official holidays. Then there is the New Year's Day, probably the most important and the most celebrated holiday in Kosova, given the secular character of its society. This year however, all these holidays are joined by the Muslim holiday of Kurban Bajram celebrated by Kosova Muslims, Albanian and Slav (also celebrated by all other types of Albanians in a secular way).

Kosova is one of the most diverse places in Europe. All these holidays are celebrated in with a communal spirit. The traditional celebrations very interesting, because they are imbued with pre-Christian traditions as old as Albanians themselves. Western Christmass and New Year's especially exhibit these traditions. Some of the most exciting holidays combine pagan, Western Christian, Eastern Orthodox and (Sufi) Muslim traditions in a beautyful day. One such holiday is St. Georges day, known as ShenGjergji.

The modern way of celebrating all the above-mentioned holidays is equally exciting. As you may have already guessed, it involves a lot of drinking, music and partying. Hotels, Restaurants, and bars are full of young people. The way in which all holidays are celebrated by all people regardless of religious background (Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Secular, Atheist) has many implications such as the traditoin inter-religious tolerance. However, I would like to point out just one: Kosovars just wanna have fun!


A Kosovo child waves a U.S. flag after he received Christmas presents from U.S. Marine Corps in Djakovica, 100 km (60 miles) west of capital Pristina, December 23, 2006. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

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