North Macedonia History and Culture
Updated: Mar 8
If you love history and culture you must be reading this article and learn about this beautiful country!
Location and Geography
Macedonia is located in southeastern Europe. North Macedonia is bordered with Kosovo and Serbia to the north, with Albania to the west, with Bulgaria to the east and with Greece to the south. Macedonia has a good amount of mountains separated by flat river valleys. The capital city of Macedonia is Skopje, which is the largest city.
Demography and language
The population is 2,083,319. The population is 65 percent Macedonian, 25 percent Albanian, and 4 percent Turkish, with smaller numbers of Roms (Gypsies), Vlahs (Aromanians), Serbs and others. Macedonian is a South Slavic language. It is the Indo-European family whose closest relatives are Serbian and Bulgarian.
Religion- Religious Beliefs.
The major religions are Orthodox Christianity (65 percent) and Islam (30-35 percent), with small groups of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and atheists. Most Jews were deported and killed by the Nazis, but a few Jews still live in Macedonia.
In North Macedonia, religion is as important as language: Most Macedonians, Serbs, and Aromanians (Vlahs) are Christian, and most Albanians, Turks, and Rom are Muslim. The national culture in North Macedonia identifies with the Macedonian Orthodox Church, and Macedonian-speaking Muslims are divided among those who self-identify as Macedonians on the basis of the language they speak and those who self-identify as Muslims.
Rituals and Holy Places.
Rituals in Northern Macedonia take place at the church or mosque, at the cemetery, in the village, and at home. The most important holidays in North Macedonia are Christmas and Easter for Christians and Ramadan and Kurban Bayram for Muslims. For the Rom, Saint George's Day on 6 May is the major holiday. The Aromanians celebrate 20 May as the Day of the Vlahs, to commemorate the Ottoman recognition of a separate Aromanian church (and therefore millet "nationality") in 1905-1906.
Official holidays in North Macedonia for all Macedonian citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnicity are the New Year on 1 and 2 January, Orthodox Christmas on 7 January, Easter Monday, the International Day of Labor on 1 and 2 May, Saint Cyril and Methodius 25 May, Saint Elijah's Day on 2 August, the Day of the Uprising of the Macedonian people on 11 October to commemorate World War II and most important, Macedonian Independence Day on 8 September.
Marriage and Family
Traditionally, marriages were arranged by the parents, but today young people are likely to choose their own life partners. Pregnancy often leads to marriage among urban youth, but in the traditional culture of North Macedonia the bride or a woman is expected to be a virgin until the day of the wedding. Traditional marriages in most cases do not cross religious lines. Polygyny sometimes occurs among Muslims. Marriage is the norm, and adults who have never been married are very rare. Divorce and remarriage in Northern Macedonia are regulated by civil law.
In urban areas there are nursery schools and kindergartens. Eight-year elementary education and high school are compulsory. Higher Education. Society places a high value on higher education. Approximately 70 percent of those holding university degrees are ethnic Macedonians following by Albanians.
Architecture and Urbanism
The traditional culture in North Macedonia is rural, but nowadays more than 60 or 70 percent of the population is urban, with a quarter of the national residents living in metropolitan Skopje. Traditional architectural influences are Mediterranean, Ottoman and Byzantine. Many public monuments commemorate those fallen during World War II or Ilinden. Since 1991, many villages in North Macedonia have restored or built new churches or mosques.
Art and Culture
The culture and arts in North Macedonia are supported by the state through the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, institutions of higher learning, and theaters. Regardless of its small size, Macedonia boasts thirteen active professional theater groups that average over sixteen hundred total performances per year, a philharmonic orchestra (established in 1945), six chamber ensembles, and a host of folk music festivals.
Government. North Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy. North Macedonia's unicameral assembly of one-hundred twenty seats is called the Sobranje. The executive branch is made by the President (elected by popular vote) and the Council of Ministers (elected by the most votes of all the deputies in the Sobranje).
The traditional cuisine of North Macedonia shows Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences and shares some characteristics of other Balkan cuisines. The comparatively warm climate of the country provides excellent growth conditions for a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Macedonian cuisine, above all, is also known for the quality of its dairy products, local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija and different wines.
Food in Daily Life. Breakfast is eaten around 9 a.m. by workers in their offices, but earlier by factory workers, and in the field in the country. Dinner is the main meal and is eaten at around 2 p.m. Supper is eaten later after the afternoon. Meals are prepared straight away before consumption, despite the fact that they may include leftovers. Hot food most of the time is allowed to cool to room temperature. Breakfast can include bread, eggs and sometimes cheese. Other meals can start with meze (appetizers) served with rakija (fruit brandy). The national dish of North Macedonia is tavche- gravche (bean casserole), and bread is considered the most basic food.
In restaurants, pizza and burgers are especially popular. Hotel restaurants are popular venues for banquets, like for example engagements and wedding parties and there are also many private restaurants. There are no food taboos other than those associated with religion (Muslims do not eat pork) but folk beliefs about food abound.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Among Christians, turkey with stuffing is eaten for Christmas, and lamb for Easter. As for Muslims, a lamb is slaughtered for Kurban Bayram and its meat is served poor people that cannot provide food. At Christmas Eve dinner it is traditional to serve turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and a cake with a coin in it. Sweet desserts consumed during religious holidays, New Year's Day, births, weddings, and funerals. Blaga rakia (hot sugared fruit brandy) is served to family and friends by the parents of the groom the morning after the wedding night if the bride is found to have been a virgin.
5 Top Places to visit in North Macedonia
Skopje is the capital city of North Macedonia and also the largest city. Skopje is a blend of west and east, mix of modern and traditional. Skopje’s main square (Square „Macedonia”) with its bold new architecture may remind you of Rome. One of the best places to visit in Skopje is Skopje’s Old Bazaar, known as the soul of Skopje. It is believed that Skopje has the largest bazaar in the Balkans after Istanbul.
Debar is a small city located in the western part of North Macedonia, This city is known for its beautiful nature and landscape such as Debar’s Lake. The most popular tourist attraction in Debar is Debar’s Lake a popular beach destination both for Macedonians and visitors during the summer days.
Debar is also known for its Natural Thermal Water. They are natural healing of many diseases with their springs that are ranked as the most mineral rich and effective one in Europe. A lot of visitors from around the world come to visit the ‘Capa Spa Center’. Except medical treatments, a lot of visitors visit this Spa Center to relax and to stay at the hotel as a weekend getaway.
3. Matka Canyon
Matka Canyon is one of the best places to visit in North Macedonia and one of the popular tourist attractions in the country. The Matka Canyon within the Matka Lake is the oldest artificial lake in the country. Matka Canyon also offers various fun activities such as hiking, rock climbing and caving.
With its beautiful and peaceful nature, Matka is perfect for a weekend getaway.
4. Mavrovo National Park
The Mavrovo National Park is one of the best places to visit and is the largest national park in North Macedonia. The park area has the highest waterfall in the Balkans, karst relief, alpine bogs and caves and glacial lakes. The Mavrovo is also home to Macedonia’s biggest ski resort. Balkanian Lynx or lynx lynx balcanicus (in Latin) is an animal that looks like a big cat, a medium-sized wild cat, which is a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx. Balkanian Lynx is mostly found in western North Macedonia and eastern Albania. In Macedonia this specie can be found in Mavrovo National Park and is critically endangered.
5. Ohrid and Lake Ohrid
Ohrid is a tourist hotspot in western North Macedonia and one of the best places to visit in North Macedonia. The city is known for its UNESCO-listed lake, magnificent Byzantine churches and the summer festival. Ohrid is sometimes called the “Jerusalem of the Balkans” because it once had 356 churches. The most popular tourist attraction in Ohrid is ‘Lake Ohrid’, a popular beach destination both for Macedonians and foreign visitors during the summer days.