Friday, May 17, 2013

Crawling Under the Table

Easter, or Veligden, is a pretty important holiday here. Due to Macedonia using the Orthodox calendar, Easter fell in early May this year. Easter started early, however at school, where I taught my 5th graders about Easter in America and we compared it to Easter here. I taught them lots of new vocabulary words and at the end of the lesson they made mini picture dictionaries. My counterpart then took over Easter lessons day 2 and had the kids make Easter cards- one of which I was lucky enough to receive.

 Last year, I spent Easter in Kamenica and was able to partake in almost all of the traditional events, except for two- showering with red dyed Easter eggs on Thursday morning and crawling under the table at the church on Friday. I was able to cross one of those off my list this year. Phil and I mustered up enough courage to tackle crawling under the table on our own, so we went to the huge church in Shtip. Now, it doesn't sound like crawling under a table is so hard, but when you don't know the protocol, its a little intimidating. We bought our candles, light them, did a whole lot of crossing (half the time we did it the Orthodox way, the other half the Catholic way- neither one of us was raised in "crossing" families). We stood in the doorway of the church for a little bit watching others. I had a fairly good idea of what should go on after talking about it in school, but observing for a little bit definitely helped. We paid our 10 mkd to the pope who put oil on our foreheads, asked our names, and then blessed us. Then we stood in line in front of the table. At the table we paid another 10 mkd to kiss a picture of Jesus and crawl under the table. Upon exiting the table, we had water generously sprinkled all over us. Then it was another 10 mkd to kiss another picture and more crossing. Somewhere in there we were supposed to take a branch, but that step wasn't obvious, so we left the church branchless- I guess no good health for us, despite having been reborn (crawling out from under the table symbolizes re-exiting the womb if you hadn't picked up on that).

Our next Easter activity was heading to Kratovo to Phil's host family's house. I had met his host parents once in November when the Mak-17s were sworn in, but it was a super quick and awkward meeting, and I had never been to Kratovo, so this seemed like a good opportunity. We had been planning on going after the Spelling Bee, but due to the buses suddenly deciding not to run, we were unable to go.

We got to explore the whole town, eat Kratovo's pastramajka (the Kratovo version of pastramalija), attend the midnight church service on Easter while attempting to keep our candles lit, and spend some time with his host parents and sister. It was a great little trip and as usual, I will let the pictures do most of the talking.
Exploring the town.
Kratovo is one of the older towns here in Macedonia and built in the crater of a dormant volcano. It is filled with lots of hills and bridges.

Phil's new Peace Corps house perhaps?
Phil's host sister took us into one of the lesser known places in Kratovo- one of the caves that connected all of the towers together during Ottoman rule.
Phil's host mother's beautifully dyed eggs.
His mother insisted on getting a picture of him with the eggs.

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