Virgin of the Angels Day (Costa Rica celebrates its patron saint, La Negrita, a statue discovered that refused to budge and so a church was built around it).
Macedonia Ilinden (National Holiday):
In ancient times Macedonia was mostly the kingdom of Paeonia. In 356 B.C. Philip II of Macedon founded the kingdom of Macedonia, which became part of his son’s empire – Alexander the Great.
The Romans made it part of their empire in 146 B.C. After the fall of the Roman empire, Macedonia was part of the Byzantine empire, although Slavs, Avars (nomadic Turkish/Asian tribes) and Bulgars still lived there.
In the 14th century it became part of the Serbian Empire, and then part of the Ottoman Empire, along with the other Balkan states, for five centuries.
In the 19th century nationalism began to rise, but any uprisings were crushed and many killed. This day celebrates the Ilinden Uprising on 2 August 1903, which was quashed after about 20 days.
Then the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and Macedonia became southern Serbia, and then after WWI it became the Vardar Banovina (Vardar state) of the Yugoslav Kingdom.
In WWII Yugoslavia was occupied by the Axis (Nazi) powers, and was divided between Bulgaria and Albania.
When the Axis powers were driven out, Macedonia declared itself the People’s Republic of Macedonia within Yugoslavia – one of six republics in Yugoslavia. They decided to have their own Macedonian language based on the Slav dialects used in the area, and even created a Macedonian alphabet based on the Serbian alphabet. Use this wonderful keyboard to type your name in Macedonian!
On 8th September 1991 Macedonia peacefully gained independence from Yugoslavia.
In 2001 following the 1999 Kosovo war when many Albanian refugees came to Macedonia, Albanians living in Macedonia demanded an independent area, but eventually agreed to just have more political autonomy.
In Macedonian folk music, the gajda (bagpipes) and tambura (two-stringed lute) are played with the kaval (flute) and tapan (drum). The most famous Macedonian folk dance is called Teskoto (The Hard One).
One cute tradition is the Galicnik Wedding where one couple marries and EVERYONE is invited. A spooky place is Kuklica, which is said to be full of stone ‘Dolls’ after a bride saw her groom-to-be with another bride (he’d proposed twice and organised both weddings on the same day – rookie mistake) and cursed everyone.
Skopje, the capital, decided in 2014 to try to be more ‘European’, which some see as ‘historical kitsch’ and added museums, government buildings and hundreds of statues, to mask the previous socialist architecture built in the 60s when the city was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake.