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Strumica – It’s all about the carnival atmosphere

Text: Mankica Kranjec Photos: Tourismus in Mazedonien blog

(1–2 February 2018)
138 km from Alexander the Great Airport, Skopje

A proud member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC), Strumica has a carnival that stands as one of the most colourful in the region. This is actually no great surprise: hundreds of locals, and indeed people from across the country, gather on the streets of this Macedonian city dressed in fantastic costumes and ready to throw themselves into the carnival atmosphere for three days straight. Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi was the first to write about the carnival in 1670. The tradition has been preserved to the present day, with revellers creating masks and competing to bring forth the most striking ideas.

Traditional masks are a feature of the grand parade, with brides and grooms, priests and the devil being particularly prevalent, although figures from everyday life (and, of course, from politics) are also popular. The carnival reaches its climax on day three, when masked locals from Strumica enter the homes of women engaged to be married and shower them with expensive gifts. These home-based celebrations usually continue with love songs accompanied by traditional musical instruments.