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The History and Culture of Macedonia

The citizens of ancient Macedonia weren't considered to be Greek. However, modern Greeks today consider them to be co-nationals. In general, today's Macedonians are actually Slavs that are descendants from those who originally arrived in and then populated the Balkans back in the 16th and 17th centuries. All told, there are six distinct ethnic groups: Upper Vardar, Macedo-Shop, Southern, Struma-Mesta, Brsyak and Miyak. The country is located in the southeastern section of Europe.

Ethnic Relations and History

During the early medieval period, the Slavs that lived in Macedonia were a distinct group of people. Although Macedonians can often be identified as Serbs, Bulgarians or Greeks, there is a distinct difference linguistically between the Macedonian Slavic dialects and Serbian or Bulgarian. As such, a national identity has developed over time. After the end of World War II, a Macedonian republic was formed. In 1991, the republic adopted it's own independent constitution.

As is the case with many countries and regions, religion was originally a driving force in regards to Macedonia's identity. However, the language differences that set Macedonia apart also served to help form a sense of overall identity. Religion is still a very important principle when it comes to identification and organization, of course.

Food Customs

Dinner is considered to be the primary meal of the day in Macedonia. Dinner is usually eaten around 2:00 in the afternoon, while the "supper" meal is generally eaten later. The timing of the breakfast meal varies, with field and factory workers eating early and office workers eating later at around 9:00 in the morning.

In addition to the traditional daily meals, food is also very important for ceremonial occasions. For example, those who consider themselves to be Christian customarily have lamb for the Easter meal, and a bird for Christmas. Religious holidays are also among the prime times for consuming sweet desserts. Among Muslims, a lamb is traditionally slaughtered for Kurban Bayram.

Family Customs

Traditionally, families often lived in extended family units in Macedonia. These family units usually consisted of a married couple, their sons along with their children and spouses, and any unmarried daughters. Although you'll still find this kind of living arrangement among the more traditional Macedonians, it's becoming far less common today, especially in urbanized areas of the country. However, children still tend to live in their parents' home until the time they are married. In general, religious lines are not crossed when individuals marry, at least in the case of the more traditional marriages. Finding a partner and getting married is the norm in Macedonia, with married individuals far outnumbering singles who have never been married.

In the past, the concept of a clan or extended family level was quite common. For example, a hamlet that existed within a rural village often constituted a clan. Although this concept still exists today, its overall importance in family life has lessened over the years. It's considered normal in Macedonia for young to respect the old, and for children to be looked after primarily by their mothers and grandmothers.

Inheritance customs among Macedonian families have also changed over the years. Today it's quite common for children to inherit money and property based on specific assignments, or to inherit resources equally. However, in the past it was considered the norm for only males to inherit family resources. The exception to this "males only" rule was a woman's dowry when she got married.

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