People l Tradition l Values
Macedonia has had a turbulent past mixed with many religions, cultures, languages, and empires that made the country a cultural hotspot made from churches, mosques, museums, memorial houses, theaters, festivals, archaeological locations and many more.
The turbulent historical events on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia in the pre-historic, ancient and Roman period, as well as in the medieval period and the new century have left indelible traces both in terms of the spiritual and the material culture of Macedonians. This primarily refers to numberless cultural and historical monuments, museums, galleries, memorial collection, gastronomic events and other events of tourist importance.
The more cultural-historical monuments in Macedonia are Skupi near Skopje, Skopje Fortress, St.Erasmus, Ohrid Fortress, the early Christian basilica in Oktisi near Struga, the island Golem Grad on Prespa Lake, Heraclea Lyncestic, Bargala near Shtip, Vinica Fortress etc.
The numerous monasteries of which exceptionally beautiful are the monasteries of St.John Bigorski in the valley of the River Radika, St.Naum on the shore of Ohrid Lake, Treskavac near Prilep, St.Joakim of Osogovo etc.
The cultural and historical monuments are supplemented by circa 2000 churches and monasteries. The ethnographic tourist values in Macedonia are abundant in significant material, spiritual and cultural values.
The ethnographic abundance of Macedonia is performed by a number of cultural events, such as Galichnik Wedding, Ohrid Summer, May Opera Events, folk festivals, commercial fairs, etc.
Family structure in Macedonia
Macedonian culture is characterized as family orientated culture with patriarchal tradition and strong community and neighborhood networks.
A family has great importance to people in Macedonia and neighborhood and friendship ties follow right behind. The importance of strong family ties is often visible in the architecture of the Macedonian houses that have central courtyard shared by all family members.
Children often live with their parents well into adulthood or until they move out at marriage. Children are raised by their parents and grandparents look after them whilst their parents are at work. Most Macedonian women work but men are expected to provide the main source of income in the family.
Modern Times and Customs in Macedonia
Among the current modern times, the former customs and traditions are gradually vanishing due to the influence of the western world which has even reached remote areas of the country. Old customs and traditions still remain well preserved in rural areas of Macedonia, however. In the major cities of the country, families consist of the parents and children until the latter wish to live separately. Nowadays, females are very frequently well-educated and considered equal members of the families with the freedom to organize and live modern westernized lifestyles.
Macedonia is a symbol of cultural diversity.
Due to its geostrategi position Macedonia was conquered by numerous different civilizations.
The Ottoman Empire ruled over Macedonia for five centuries and left behind strong influence in the culture and customs. Numerous traces of Turkish architecture is to be visited in old cities across Macedonia. Most trading quarters were established during the Ottoman rule, and remain strong to this day. The Ottoman culture is also portrayed through old crafts, local cuisine, and everyday customs.
Even though Macedonia was affected by many disputes some of which led to wars, people here have always lived together and shared their values with each other. Inhabitants are mainly of Slavic origin –Orthodox (64,7%), Muslims (33,3 %), other Christian with (0.37%), Judaism with (0.01%), and other unspecified religions with 1.63%. All together they give the unique charm of different cultures, races, and nations through art, music, history and their own traditions.
Art l Music l Theater
The art and culture of Macedonia has a rich cultural heritage in art, architecture, poetry, and music.
Through its turbulent history, the art and culture of Macedonia has captured moments of the human existence, life, pain, suffering and aesthetics of the region depicting Macedonian psyche and character, preserved individuality and maintained in the national consciousness.
Macedonia has some of the most outstanding gifted painters, sculptures and graphic artists of its time. Its one of the countries with the most beautiful preserved Byzantine fresco paintings from the period between the 11th and 16th centuries. The culture of Macedonia has the countries most outstanding works of the mediaeval masters of fresco and icon-paintings.
The founders of modern Macedonian painting included Lazar Licenovski, Nikola Martinoski, Dimitar Pandilov and Vangel Kodzoman. They were succeeded by an exceptionally talented and fruitful generation, consisting of Borka Lazeski, Dimitar Kondovski, Petar Mazev and many others who are still active. Vasko Taskovski’s work was presented to the Paris public in 1992 with an imposing exhibition and auction of about 100 works. Vangel Naumovski, who was long classified by art historians as a Naive artist, is well-known for his Ohridska Porta Gallery, as well as for the original world of his paintings
All the icon painters who worked in Macedonia in the second half of the nineteenth century were of Macedonian origin. The most prominent of them was the icon painter Dicho ( Dimitar Krstev ) from the village of Tresonche in the area of Debar. He painted the frescoes in several churches in western Macedonia in the period from 1848 until 1852, including the frescoes in the Monastery Church of St.John Bigorski and the Church of St. George in Rajchica,
Dimo Todorovski is the founder of the Macedonian contemporary sculpture. In the beginning, the sculpture was represented by works which reflect the spirit of our traditions and our motifs. The list of contemporary Macedonian sculptors would be incomplete without the name of Tome Serafimovski and Boro Mitrikjeski.
The woodcarving tradition in Macedonia has existed for several centuries. Among the most popular is the iconostasis in the Church of the Holy Savior (Sv.Spas) in Skopje and the iconostasis in the Monastery of John Bigorski in the vicinity of Debar. They were created by the eminent artist Petar Filipovski-Garkata, his brothers Marko and Makarie Filipovski ( who lived in the 19th century), all from the village of Gari in western Macedonia
Macedonia has an exceptionally rich musical heritage. The numerous studies, among which we can single out the most recent work by Sotir Golabovski, Octoechos, on the tradition of Macedonian spiritual and church singing, are a significant contributiojn to Macedonian and Balkan cultural history.
The Composer’s Association of Macedonia today has 60 composers as members. After the founding generation of modern Maceodnian classical music, consisting of Trajko prokopiev, Todor Skalovski, Stefan Gajdov and Zivko Firfov, came the work of Kiril Makedonski, Gligor Smokvarski, Vlastimir Nikolovski, Toma Prosev, Tomislav Zografski, Mihailo Nikolovski, Ljubomir Brangolica and Risto Avramovski.
The Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, established in 1944, is the oldest cultural institution in the field of music. There are also six active chamber and other music ensembles, three professional and about twenty amateur choirs. The richness of Macedonian folklore and songs is represented by the professional ensemble ‘Tanec’, and there are ten other folklore ensembles which are active on a semi-professional basis. Each year about 50,000 people attend the concerts of the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra and the various folk dance ensembles and other cultural and artistic associations.
In addition to the concerts held as part of the Ohrid Summer Festival, an annual festival of classical music named Interfest was established in Bitola a few years ago.
Folk music is one of the most cherished areas of Macedonian culture, and several folk festivals take place each year. The oldest is Folkfest, held in Valandovo, and it is interesting to note that most festivals have further showings among Macedonian expatriates in Australia and Canada. The Festival of Old Town Songs in Ohrid and the Ilinden Days of Folk Song in Bitola are events which nourish traditional Macedonian songs.
Mak-Fest in Stip and the Skopje Festival are the two best-known festivals of popular music in Macedonia.
The pop group ‘Leb i Sol’, with its original music which uses traditional folk themes and rhythms, has been active for over twenty years and become widely known beyond the frontiers of Macedonia.
There are 13 active professional theatres in Macedonia. In the 1993/94 season they held 1,596 performances, attended by more than 330,000 people.
The Macedonian National Theatre (Drama, Opera and Ballet companies), the Drama Theatre, the Theatre of the Nationalities (Albanian and Turkish Drama companies) and the other theatre companies comprise about 870 professional actors, singers, ballet dancers, directors, playwrights, set and costume designers, etc. There is also a professional theatre for children and three amateur theatres.
For over thirty years now a traditional festival of Macedonian professional theatres has been taking place in Prilep in honour of Vojdan Cernodrinski, the founder of the modern Macedonian theatre. Each year a festival of amateur and experimental Macedonian theatre companies is held in Kocani.
In 1905, in Bitola, the brothers Milton and Janaki Manaki shot the first filmed sequences, which marked the beginning of film art not only in Macedonia but also in the Balkans. In honour of this important event, each year Bitola is the host of the Manaki Festival of Cinecamera, the only one of its kind in the world.
In Macedonia the centenary of the cinema was marked in an impressive way. The young director responsible for this was Milcho Manchevski, who won the Golden Lion of the 1994 Venice Film Festival for his first feature film Before the Rain. The film was screened at some thirty international festivals, where it also won other accolades. The American Film Academy nominated it for the Best Foreign Language Film Award for the year 1994.
The first Macedonian feature film, ‘Frosina’ was made in 1952, and a few years later the first colour and cinemascope film entitled ‘Miss Stone’ appeared. The films ‘Black Seed’ by Kiril Cenevski as well as ‘Happy New 1949’ and ‘Tattooing’ Stole Popov were shown at several international festivals.
Following the great success of Before the Rain, Macedonia is trying to consolidate its production and make at least two or three feature films a year with domestic funds. In recent years international co-productions have begun to be made in Macedonia. The director Manchevski has already signed contracts for shooting films during the next five years. There is a hope of resurrecting the prominent Vardar Film school of animated films.
The Films Archives (Cinematheque) of Macedonia has developed fruitful research and publishing activities. This, and the organization of symposia devoted to film and modern society, has brought significant international recognition.
The national dresses in Macedonia have a century-long tradition. They are a constituent part of the culture of the Macedonian people. Created as a collective gain of the entire Macedonian nation, they have been conveyed from generation to generation and along the developmental process, they have incorporated numerous elements of the diverse cultural influences which crisscrossed in this part of the Balkans.
Macedonian national costumes are part of the material culture of the Macedonian people and they are an important branch of the Macedonian folk art.
There are around 70 various types of richly decorated traditional costumes in Macedonia. Macedonian traditional costumes are divided into two main types: west Macedonian and east Macedonian traditional costumes. According to the ethnographic zones, the western Macedonian traditional costumes come as the Upper course of Vardar River zone, the Debar-Mijak, and the Brsjak zones, while the east Macedonian traditional costumes are divided as the Middle course of the Vardar River zone and the Shopi region.
Every type of folk costume has its own characteristics, but common for all is the presence of the red, black and the white color and the geometrical shapes on it.
As for present-day clothing – there isn’t much difference in Macedonia fashion from any westernized country. There are many famous fashion designers from Macedonia such as the famous Aleksandar Noshpal- extravagant and sophisticated designer, Rosica Mrshick- designer with sophisticated and contemporary style, Mila Kadriu- designer and owner of Mcouture, Tanja Kokev- designer at Atelier Kokev, Neboysha Toleski, Nena Koneli. … and some of the extravagant fashion pieces can be seen in the largest fashion festival in Macedonia – Fashion Week Skopje.
Macedonia has always been an attractive location for settlers. There are traces of the earliest human communities. Some of the earliest buildings of architecture can be found on the localities Tumba, Mogila, and Chuka.
The arrival of St. Clement of Ohrid to Macedonia marks the beginning of a new period of art in this region. The history of art in these areas represents the history of ecclesiastical art. The influence of the Byzantine art is tremendous, although the works of art from the time of St. Clement and Czar Samuel are exceptional. The construction of the church “Hagia Sophia” in Constantinople had a significant influence on the establishment of criteria regarding the construction of places of worship in the areas where the Orthodox Church prevailed.
In the period when Macedonia fell under the Ottoman Empire and Ottoman reign, the architecture in Macedonia was under huge influence imposed by the Islamic architecture. This is witnessed by numerous buildings which are remains of that period, such as Turkish baths, mosques, hamams, bezistens, bazaars, etc.
The most magnificent works of urban architecture in the Republic of Macedonia are the ones constructed at the end of the 18th and 19th century. At that period the towns and cities in the Republic of Macedonia obtained architectonic appearance which they preserved in the 20th century as well.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Macedonian architecture underwent diverse architectonic influences. In the course of the 1940’s and especially following the Second World War, Macedonia pursued the contemporary architecture trends.