I have been asked whether or not Albania celebrates Christmas since it has such a large Muslim community. From what I can tell, everyone in Albania celebrates Christmas. There are Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, Santa Clauses, and Christmas music playing everywhere. That being said, I have never seen any reference to the birth of Christ, a nativity scene or any indication that Christmas is a Christian holiday.
New Year’s Day is a much bigger celebration than Christmas here. This is because during Communist time (roughly 1945-1992) there could be no mention of anything religious. Most churches and mosques were destroyed during this time. If a person spoke of religion or tried to practice any religion they were at risk of being jailed or executed. Because all religion was banned, New Year’s Day became a big holiday for Albanians. Santa Claus visits the children of Albania on New Year’s Eve. It is tradition to have lots of fireworks to celebrate the new year. Also, it is tradition to serve a big family meal that includes turkey. New Years Day is the only time of the year when turkey is a tradition to serve. Also we have been told that all the shops close down for the first three days of the year to celebrate.
Here are a few pictures of Christmas in Albania.
Here the Grade One students are singing a traditional Albanian song which is sung for New Year’s Day. It was so cool to watch the children sing! They were confident and obviously knew the song well. It was not a song they had learned at school but rather one they all knew through their family traditions. One thing I love about Albanians is how connected they are with their families. They have strong traditions and pass them along through their family.
Since I have mentioned school it reminds me that I keep forgetting to give you the link to another blog. Each teacher is required to maintain a blog that is updated weekly and serves as a way to communicate with parents. As you will see, the blog includes lots of pictures because some parents are not strong English speakers and the pictures allow them the opportunity to see what their children do at school. The link to the blog is https://sites.google.com/actirana.edu.al/grade1act/home Click on “More” at the top of the blog’s page to see my class.
Tomorrow I am flying to South Africa to spend two weeks with the Chervenak family. I will meet Randy and Josh there. Unfortunately David has to work so we will not see him at Christmas this year. 😦 I am looking forward to visiting South Africa but mostly I cannot wait to see the family and spend some time together!!
Randy and I are not sending Christmas cards this year so I want to take this time to wish our family and friends a very merry Christmas and all the best in 2019. Thank you so much for all of your support and interest as we have the experience of living abroad for a couple of years. Come visit us in Albania in 2019! We would love to host you!