PROSPHORON (SACRAMENTAL BREAD)

Prosphoron is a yeast bread in a circular shape which is used in the service of the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Prosphoron, along with wine, is a gift from the church to God. These gifts during the Liturgy are exalted to God and later as consecrated are given to people. Prosphoron is made with prayer. During the making of prosphoron, one should pray to Jesus with the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy", because the Holy Liturgy becomes the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prosphoron is consisted of 3 ingredients: flour with yeast representing the soul, water represents Baptism and salt represents the teaching of the Lord to His disciples: "You are the salt of the Earth."

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cube fresh yeast
  • seal
Preparation:
  1. Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water,same way as in preparation of plain bread.
  2. Put flour in a bowl and add salt. Mix it thoroughly with flour and add the dissolved yeast. Slowly pour the remaining water, then knead the dough well until strong enough.
  3. Divide dough in 10 balls (for 5 prosphorons). Take 2 balls, stretch them a bit and press with your palm, then glue both disks.
  4. Put seal in flour, shake well and press it in the prosphoron. Carefully pull it out.
  5. Leave to rise in a warm place until double the size of the dough, then bake at about 200 C degrees for about an hour.
  6. Once you're done, wash dishes you used with a sponge only for that purpose.

Note:
Yeast should be warm in all stages of preparation of prosphoron;

Before baking, put a little flour at the bottom of the baking pan ;

Before we bring prosphoron in the church, wallow in a separate clean cloth;

TODAY IS SPASOVDEN - ASCENSION

Today, 25th of May is Ascension - Spasovden. Names that celebrate this day are: Spase, Aspasija, Spaska etc.
Ascension Day, or the Feast of Christ's ascension to heaven is the fortieth day of the Resurrection. Lord appeared to his disciples every day during the 40 days after his resurrection, telling them about the kingdom of God.

And he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to await the descent of the Holy Spirit, then he brought his disciples to Bethany, blessed them and ascended to heaven.

While disciples were looking at the cloud that hid their Lord in front of their eyes, the Angels announced that the same Jesus who was ascending to heaven, will come again in the same manner as they have seen him ascend. This holiday is called Ascension Day because in the day of Christ's ascension, his work of salvation was completed.

GLAGOLITZA - THE FIRST SLAVIC ALPHABET

In 862, the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius created the Glagolitza - the first Slavic alphabet, which served as a script for Old Slavonic language. The Glagolitza is a system of graphs. It was consisted of 41 (later 38) letters that accurately reflect the sound characteristics of the Old Macedonian language. The name Glagolitza comes from the word "glagol", which means "verb". Since "verb" means "to speak," the Glagolitza is poetically called "the letters that speak".
Glagolitza (small letters present the Cyrillic alphabet)

Cyrillic alphabet is derived from the older Glagolitic alphabet, including some ligatures. The script is named in honor of the two Byzantine brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on. Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius, Kliment and Naum who transformed and simplified the new and varied Glagolitic alphabet. It is composed of 31 letters.
The Cyrillic Alphabet, based on the Glagolitza, is still used in various Slavonic languages. About 10% of the countries in the world write in Cyrillic. The Cyrillic alphabet is the third official alphabet of the EU after the Latin alphabet and the Greek alphabet.

20 MOST IMPORTANT RULES IN CHRONO DIET

The chrono diet is becoming more and more popular and becomes a way of life like vegetarianism and veganism. This diet can help you a lot if you want to reduce your weight. Chrono diet is not a diet, so it is not settled in the list of diets. This diet is designed to change your attitude towards food from one side, but on the other hand helps very effectively in reducing the excess weight.

Chrono nutrition is based on that what you eat is not the most important, but it is important when you eat and how you combine your food. These are the three main principles of chrono diet:
  • beware of what you eat
  • beware at what time you eat
  • be careful how you combine foods
  1. The day doesn't begin with coffee! The coffee must not be drank before breakfast. If you're used to drink coffee before breakfast, be sure to replace it with hot tea or fresh lemonade. Coffee is allowed 2 times a day, one after breakfast and another after lunch. It's forbidden to add milk, sugar, cream and any other sweeteners and additives to coffee. 
  2. Breakfast is the most important meal, have breakfast before 9 am! 
  3. There need to have 5 hours between meals, which means that if breakfast is at 9 am, lunch should be at 14 and dinner at 19 o'clock. 
  4.  It is permitted to eat absolutely anything between meals. Importing foods in the body when it is not the right time causes the secretion of certain hormones. All this influences the accumulation of adipose tissue and fat. 
  5. Sugar is forbidden! All forms of sweeteners are banned: white, brown sugar, honey, fructose, etc.. In restrictive period it is not allowed entering any desserts, in the form of food, not even in the form of beverages (soft drinks and juices with sugar are also banned). 
  6. In restricted period the fruit is also prohibited because it contains sugar (fructose)!
  7. Milk and yogurt are also prohibited because they contain milk sugar - lactose! 
  8. Dairy products are permitted only for breakfast three times a week. You can eat: kefir, yogurt, sour cream and lean young cheeses. Old and hard cheeses are not allowed. Also golden rule is that you should never combine two types of dairy products in one meal! 
  9. Alcohol is forbidden! Alcohol contains a lot of unnecessary and empty calories. It is allowed only a glass of red wine occasionally! 
  10. White flour is not used! Permitted: corn flour, buckwheat, oats, barley and rye. 
  11. Bread and pasta from permitted flour can be only eaten for breakfast. Lunch and dinner are without pasta and without bread! 
  12. It is necessary to drink 2 liters of water daily. You can drink lemonade without sugar and herbal teas unlimited. Mineral water is allowed, but mostly two cups a day. Liquid in not entered half an hour before and half an hour after a meal!
  13. Meals can be prepared on lard and butter. Sunflower and other refined oils are banned! Margarine is also prohibited! Cold pressed oils are allowed, but they must not be exposed to high temperature and cook with them, so use them only in salad! 
  14. It is allowed to eat cereals from whole grain. 
  15. Meat products are permitted only for breakfast. It is best to eat some that are sure to be made of meat: homemade sausages, bacon, prosciutto etc. Be careful with these products, many of them contain a lot of preservatives and additives. Do not choose cheap options! 
  16. Eggs are allowed. You can eat whole egg for breakfast, but other meals only whites. The eggs are never mixed with dairy products! 
  17. The meat is permitted and desirable. It is best to consume it combined with fresh salad. You can't  combine two kinds of meat in one meal! 
  18. Starchy vegetables are prohibited! Avoid: beans, potatoes, peas, lentils and rice. Other vegetables are allowed. It is the best to eat vegetables fresh! 
  19. Vinegar is not used as a spice! Instead of vinegar, season salad with freshly squeezed lemon juice! Vegeta and such similar spice blends that contain hidden sugar are also forbidden! All other spices are allowed!
  20. The amount of food you eat per meal is not limited, eat to be satiated until the next meal. You should not skip meals, nor should drastically decrease them. You mustn't be hungry between meals because it can make you reach for some snacks and sweets.
You can read the original article written in Macedonian here

ABOUT MACEDONIA

Macedonia is a country located in the region of Vardar Macedonia, in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. The country is one of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, which declared independence in 1991. Macedonia occupies about 38% of the total area of Macedonia region. Geographically, the country borders Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The relief of the country is mainly mountainous. Although it's a continental country, it has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 meters.
Macedonia is a sovereign, independent, democratic and social state. The capital is Skopje, with a population of 506,926 people (estimation for 2004). Other major cities are Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Stip, Kocani, Gostivar and Strumica. Macedonia has a total of 25,713 square kilometers in which live around 2,114,550 inhabitants (estimate for 2009), of which the majority are Macedonians. The official language is the Macedonian language and the official currency is the Macedonian denar.In 1993, Macedonia became a member of the United Nations, but because of the name dispute that the country is having with Greece, the application is made under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe. Since December 2005, Macedonia is also a candidate to join the European Union and has applied to join NATO too.
st.jovan kaneo
Church St.Jovan-Kaneo in Ohrid

Antic Macedonia


Archaeological finds show that on the area of ​​Macedonia, existed civilization since the period between 9000 BC and 3500 BC . The first Macedonian Kingdom appeared during the IX century BC, and there is a doubt about who was the first Macedonian king - Karan (who is considered the mythical ancestor of Argead Dynasty) or Perdika I (first historical king of the Kingdom of Macedonia) .
Approximately from the V century BC, the Kingdom of Macedonia becomes a significant political and economic player in the region. Philip II of Macedonia, after obedience of Illyrians and Thracians, also managed to conquer Greece too. His son, Alexander III of Macedonia is one of the most important figures in world history. He first broke the internal resistance in the extended Macedonian Kingdom, and later has destroyed the vast Persian Empire and extended the Macedonian state on three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa, extending on the Balkans and Asia Minor, Middle East, Egypt and India, and thus was created the Macedonian Empire. After his death, this huge empire, due to disagreements of his generals about who will be his successor, has divided in 3 parts: the Seleucids kingdom, the Kingdom of Ptolemais and the Kingdom of Antigonids. Conquests of Alexander III of Macedonia are essential for the initiation of the Hellenistic period in world history.
The penetration of the Roman Republic to east, leads to the so-called Macedonian-Roman wars in which Macedonian kingdom driven by the Dynasty of Antigonids, fully falls under Roman rule, and the last Macedonian king Perseus is taken as a slave in Rome. It became a Roman province as part of the Roman Empire and was divided into 2 parts - Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris. The territory of today's Republic of Macedonia was divided between the provinces Macedonia Salutaris and Moesia Prima. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD on Eastern and Western Roman Empire, Macedonia becomes part of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium.

Philip II
Monument of Philip II in Bitola

Moving of the Slavs
In VI and VII century in the Balkans and Macedonia came the Slavs, reaching south to Thessaly, even to the Peloponnese. They mixed with the locals, mostly ancient Macedonians, then Greeks, Illyrians and Thracians. On Macedonian territory, which then was under Byzantine jurisdiction, Macedonian Slavs were organized in half-country formations - Macedonian Sclavinians. Sclavinians took many attacks against Byzantium and against established Byzantine cities.
In 837., Macedonia begins to fall under the authority of the Bulgarian state, so until the middle of the IX century, most of Macedonia came under Bulgarian rule, and the other part was included within the Byzantine Empire. In the IX century, also begins the religious-educational activity of the Solun brothers Cyril and Methodius, consisted of more missions for Christianization of the Slavs, but also in they layed the foundations of the Slavic alphabet, beginning with the creation of the Slavic alphabet - the Glagolitic alphabet, in 855. Their disciples Clement and Naum, will continue their work and at the end of the IX century, will create the Ohrid Literary School and Preslav Literary School, which made Ohrid to soon became one of the most religious-educational and cultural center of the Balkans, the cradle of Slavic literacy.

St.Cyril
Monument of St.Cyril in Skopje

In the X century, Macedonia will be hit by the Bogomil movement and learning, first created in Veles-Prilep area, as an echo of the submissive feudal church-economic system. It soon spread not only in Macedonia, but also throughout Europe.
With the upcoming uprisings in Macedonia in the second half of X century, in 969 year against Bulgaria and in 976 against the Byzantine Empire, was created Macedonian medieval feudal state, also known as King Samuel's Kingdom. Macedonian medieval feudal state existed until 1018, when was conquered by the Byzantine armies. In the 13th and 14th century, the Byzantine control of Macedonia was interrupted by periods of Serbian and Bulgarian rule.
By the end of the XIV century, Macedonia was completely conquered by the Ottomans, bringing its economic and social system to destroy, and also its further social and cultural development was significantly slowed down. In 1767,the Sultan overturned Ohrid Archbishopric.

Strengthening the national language

From the XIV century in Macedonia the influence of the Serbian version of Old Church Slavonic begins to strengthen. The reason for it was joining the Macedonian lands to then Serbian state. That influence relates mainly to spelling. In addition, in the literary monuments of that time are visible traces of modern living Macedonian speeches.
At the time of the Ottoman Empire, literacy is experiencing a decline. Its language is further away from the Old Slavic basis, because in the living vernacular were already accumulated more significant changes. Besides church liturgical books, in which was more taken into consideration the oldest written Slavic tradition, appear more such texts used for reading a wider circle of people or represent inscriptions for practical use.
In the XVI century, books are printed in Serbia and Venice. In the XII century, came large quantities of church books printed in Russia in Russian-Slavic language.

National awakening

During the Ottoman rule, the position of Macedonians and the creation of a Macedonian state was very hard. Several movements whose goals were the creation of an autonomous Macedonia, which covers the entire region of Macedonia, started to appear in the late XIX century, and the oldest of them is the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. In 1905 it was renamed in Internal Macedonian - Odrin Revolutionary Organization, and after the World War II, organization was divided into Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) and Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organization. Most members still were Macedonians. In 1903 IMRO (VMRO) organized the Ilinden Uprising against the Ottomans, who after some initial successes, including the establishment of the Krusevo Republic was defeated with great human losses. The uprising and the formation of the Krusevo Republic later will greatly affect to the creation of today's Republic.

Macedonian flag
Macedonian flag

Municipalities in Macedonia

Municipalities in Macedonia are administrative units of the first order. In August 2004, the Republic of Macedonia was reorganized into 84 municipalities; 10 of them are the City of Skopje, a separate unit of local government and capital of the state.
Almost all municipalities are unchanged or only assimilated from the previous 123 municipalities established in September 1996; others were attached to each other and their boundaries changed. Prior to this, the local authority has been organized into 34 administrative units at different levels.
By number of population, the largest municipality in the Republic of Macedonia is Kumanovo municipality with 105,484 inhabitants, and the smallest municipality is Vranestica with 1322 inhabitants.


Location

Macedonia has an area of ​​25,713 km2 and landlocked. Republic of Macedonia to east is bordering Bulgaria, to the north Serbia, on the west Albania and south with Greece. The length of the state border is 766 km.
The significance of the geographical position of the Republic of Macedonia as a central Balkan state bordering with four countries, different in their economic potential and development, is that they are addressed to mutual trade and complementariness of their economies, exactly through the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.

Mountain Baba
Mountain Baba

Relief

Macedonia is a country that is enclosed within its borders and is landlocked. It is geographically defined by a valley which forms the largest river in its territory - Vardar, which is bordered by several mountain ranges. Generally the land is uneven and located between the Shar Mountains and Osogovo that border the valley of the river Vardar. The three largest natural lakes in the country are Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lake. They lie on the southern border, and are divided between the borders with Albania and Greece. Lake Ohrid is considered one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world. The region is seismically active and many crashes have occurred in the past.

lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid


Religion in Macedonia (2002)

Eastern Orthodoxy (64.8%)
Islam (33.3%)
Catholicism (0.4%)
Others/None (1.5%)

In the Republic of Macedonia, the most common religion is Orthodox Christianity, practiced by most of the ethnic Macedonians. The vast majority of the Orthodox Christians in the country belong to the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which declared autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967.

Muslims are the second-largest religious group with almost one-third of the population adhering to Islam, mainly from the country's Albanian and Turkish minorities. There are also many other religious groups in Macedonia, including Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism.
monastery
Monastery St.Jovan Bigorski



BITOLA - THE CITY OF CONSULS (PART 1)

Bitola - a town in southwestern Macedonia, administrative, cultural, economic, industrial, and educational center for that part of the country. The city is known as the city of consuls, because there were consular missions of the European countries at the time of the Ottoman Empire, where together with Solun (Thessaloniki), Bitola was the most important place in the European part of the empire. Today, many of the consular offices in the country are located here. Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia according to the number of inhabitants. During Yugoslavia, Bitola was one of the cultural centers in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, as well as in Yugoslavia. Father of the Turkish nation, Kemal Atatürk, attended officer school in Bitola. Some of his works are kept in the National Museum.
photo by Gordana Adzieva
View of Magnolia Square with the monument of Philip II of Macedonia - the founder of Bitola and the famous clock tower in the background, photo by Gordana Adzieva-Mihajlovska
Etymology

Throughout history, depending on the rulers, Bitola had many names. According to Adrian Room, the Slavic name for the city, Bitola, comes from the word Monastery (Old Slavonic Obitѣlь) and this term today is used in Croatian language (Obitelj), which during the Middle Ages was used to name a community of monks, a family or monastery. Bitola was named after the many monasteries that were in town and in the surrounding area, and some of them still exist today. Over time, the voice O was disposed in the pronunciation of the word "Obitel" and the name of the city becomes Bitola. Greeks called the city Monastir (Greek: Μοναστήρι). Bitola is the present official name of the city, but also the oldest title, judging by Bitola plate from 1015 on which the city is mentioned, as well as according to many generals of the Emperor Samuel, and passengers at the time. Arab traveler Abu Abdallah Muhammad al-Idrisi in the XII century wrote: "It takes two days to travel east to reach the Ahrida (Ohrid) and Butyl (Bitola). Butyl is unusual and beautiful city. "
There are tales that on the right bank of the river Dragor were 41 churches and the same number of mills for maintaining the churches. Also on the left bank of the Dragor there were 29 churches with 29 mills. During the holidays at this time, people from the villages of Bitola area gathered in those churches where they performed their religious rites. Since the land on which was located the city of Bitola was then covered with numerous monasteries, the city was named Monastery.
River Dragor
River Dragor

 According to the written records of Marco Cepenkov Bitola was named after some rich man named Toljo, who had his fortress near the village Bukovo. At the time when the Turks came to conquer this part of Macedonia, they called him saying "Bi Toljo, Bi Toljo" which according to Marko Cepenkov is where the current name of the city of Bitola comes from.

During Ottoman rule, the city was called Monastery, which Turks and Albanians adopted from the Greeks. After the Balkan Wars in 1913, the city falls under Serb occupation and again receives the old name Bitola.

History

Many important events in Macedonian and Balkan history took place in Bitola. The city was built, rebuilt, damaged and re-built and upgraded since its first settlement in the Late Bronze Age. Then in the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire, until the Byzantine time, had the status of a town with a high degree of civilization.
Bitola korzo
Shirok Sokak (famous promenade in Bitola)



Traditionally the strong commercial center, is known as the city of consuls because at one point during the Ottoman Empire, Bitola had even twenty consulates from various European countries. In the same period, the city had many schools, among others, the military academy, which attended the famous Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk. At the end of the XIX century, Bitola was so powerful city, that its population constantly grew and exceeded the population of Belgrade. The city was crowded with factories and photographic shops and the interesting part is that despite Singer in Bitola, even at that time there was a factory for sweets in Bitola. Bitola recorded the first photos and movies thanks to the brothers Manaki. It was the golden age of the city. Unfortunately, during the Balkan wars, many battles were driven around the city and in the city itself, so, many physical evidences were burned or were completely destroyed. The architecture was recovered, especially in the last fifteen years, and evidence of everything that happened are the stories from the elders who remember well what happened.



To be continued...

RAKIJA - CONNECTING PEOPLE (HOW IT'S MADE)

Home production of brandy (rakija) is a tradition in Macedonia. In order to receive high quality grape and fruit brandy, producers should be very careful with the technology and manufacturing process.

boiling rakija
Rakija - connecting people
Thе process of fermenting the grapes (cleared from vine stems and leaves) lasts at least 60 days in warmer days, while later in the autumn, that process lasts longer. Now, when the grapes would "lie" at the bottom of the barrel, means that they are fermented. According to the old master, in recent times, rather than wait for weeks, wine yeast was added that made the grapes ferment faster and all bacteria were destroyed. Yet most important of all is if the grapes have sugar; if there is sugar, there will be more brandy, and therefore the wine cellars don't purchase grapes with more sugar because it is not so good for making wine.
When the process of boiling is finished and grape becomes komina, the cauldron for making brandy is set. The complete equipment for making brandy is consisted of a copper pot and pot that differs from the barrel for having no lid, and it must constantly have cold water inside so by cooling, condensation can be turned into liquid alcohol. Both containers are connected with a pipe where the condensed liquid from the one container is transferred to the other container filled with cold water.
set for rakija
Set for making rakija

To obtain a quality brandy, follow these important rules:

1. Fruits from the fruit trees and grapes should be harvested at full maturity and shoudn't be rotten.
2. Containers where blended grapes or fruits are put should be wooden or plastic for food purposes. We should not use plastic containers that are used for storage and transmission of technical materials such as plastics which affect human health.
3. Before use, containers should be well cleaned, wooden pots are cleaned with hot water and wooden soda and plastic containers are cleaned with appropriate detergent and rinsed well. Very good cleaning of the tank is achieved with a solution of salt in quantities of 100 to 200 g with 200-400 ml vinegar. Use a cloth soaked in this solution and rub the whole inner surface of the tank and inside of the pipe.
4. After grinding the grape or fruit pulp, should be added vinobran 5-10 grams per 100 kg mash and it should be pressed with wooden or plastic grid on which is placed a stone, so the pulp would be held completely submerged during the whole process. The containers are filled to 80% of the volume, so there won't happen any leakage during the tumultuous part of boiling.
5. Wooden containers are covered with wooden cover on which we put a nylon and wrap the container's opening and nylon is stretched (wired with a binding cord made of rubber). Plastic containers should be covered with their original covers.
6. To obtain a quality brandy, grapes and liquid aren't boiled together, but just fruit liquid. Cauldrons are filled with fruit liquid to 90% of the volume of the tank, and the rest is filled with water. The container where the fruit remains are, is filled with water with the same amount as we previously eastward fluid or wine. Water stands for 2-4 days and then the cauldrons are filled with the liquid of 95% by volume and is brewed brandy. So, working with liquids only, with the first boiled liquid we extract 80-90% of alcohol from the mashed fruit and with the second - the rest to 100%.

rakija

HOLY 40 MARTYRS ON KRKARDASH, BITOLA - MARCH 21ST

Holy 40 Martyrs Church is located on Krkardash in Bitola in the area called Smilevski Bair. It was built 150 years ago, on the same place of the former monastery "St. Athanasius". Day of the church is every first day of spring, 21th of March.

holy 40 martyrs


Krkardash or Krkkardash is legendary region in northern Montmartre (Bair), where unequal struggle occurred between Macedonians and the Turkish army. When the Turkish army had conquered Bitola, the monks of the monastery gave fierce resistance fighting with cross in one hand and knife in other.
According to legends of Marco Cepenkov, there was a small fortress, in a possession of the feudal owner Toljo, which Turks closed during their conquest of Bitola. There, the entire Macedonian population fought back the Turkish army. All defenders of the fortress have fallen in bloody battle. Due to the strong and heroic defense, Turks named that region Krkkardash, which means 40 brothers. Today on this place are the Church "St. 40 Martyrs" and "St. Archangel Michael".
holy martyrs

On October 29, 2012 with a large national gathering in Bitola, the Macedonian Orthodox Church canonized the holy 40 martyrs with solemn liturgy held in the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius.
40 white doves flied as a sign of their elevation for those who suffered for the Christian faith and sacrificed their lives during the conquest of Bitola by the Ottomans in 1385.

In honor of these 40 monks was built the Monastery "40 Machenici".

Each year on this day, in the evening hours, all citizens of Bitola visit this place and light a candle in a memory of 40 martyrs. People go there and on 22nd of March from morning until the afternoon.

VANJA LAZAROVA-MACEDONIAN FOLK LEGEND

Yesterday, on 12th of March 2017, died Vanja Lazarova, a synonym of the Macedonian folk song
 The velvet voice of one of the most talented Macedonian performers of folk music - Vanja Lazarova went silent. The 86-year old Vanja left the world, leaving behind a wealth of unforgettable musical interpretations that bring us tears.

She was born on 27th of April 1930 in the village Stracin, Kratovo. Vanja Lazarova tirelessly conquered the world with her divine voice. She had even performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and her voice have been honored by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Macedonian folk and ethno music would never been what they are without the voice of Vanja Lazarova. She worked in the opera at the National Theatre and was a member of the "Ensemble".

She was also the first Macedonian singer who recorded sheets for record companies Philips and Poligram.
She had a special contribution in her cooperation with the Macedonian band "Anastasia" when creating the music for the film "Before the Rain" by Milcho Manchevski. Her vocal is particularly amenable to the ethno synthesis.
Macedonia is grateful for all the legacy she has left to us and to the world and we will always appreciate every song she sang with her hearht. We will always tremble while listening to her "So maki sum se rodila".

Rest in peace legend!

8TH OF MARCH-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

8th of March is the day that marks the women's struggle for economic, political and social equality with men.
The idea for a special day dedicated to women originates in the early 20th century, and it specifically was insisted by the socialist movement.

The first Women's Day is marked on February 28, 1909 in the United States at the initiative of the Socialist Party of America.
In 1910, under the auspices of the Second International in Copenhagen is held the First International Conference on Women where it was decided to celebrate the International Women's Day, but without specific date being set. The following year, on March 19, 1911, the feast was first celebrated by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
On March 8th, 1913, women across Europe held peace rallies.
After the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia and on the initiative of Alexandra Kollontai, for the first time March 8th was declared a national holiday. Soviet Russia was the first country which marked March 8th in red letters on the calendar in 1917 and it became a public non working holiday in 1965.
Today traditionally male purchases flowers to female and wishes her a happy feast.
In Macedonia, every woman celebrates 8th of March, feeling special on this day. Women gather in restaurants enjoying great food and giving presents to each other. Small presents are also given to female teachers, mothers and grandmothers.

MARTENITSA FOR HAPPINESS AND HEALTH (MARTINKA)

The tradition continues, as every year, with the first day of March, many of the citizens put martenitsa on their hands or on the lapels. They believe that wearing martenitsa until 22 March will bring happiness in their lives.
Martenitsa (martinka) is a small ornament that our parents, aunts or grandmothers tied on our hands and are worn from March 1st until the end of the month, and according to other beliefs, martenitsa is tied on 14th of March. Martenitsa is an ornament made of hemp in red and white color. They are the symbol of Baba Marta (Grandma March), known to us as a harbinger of spring.
martinki


This tradition is also observed in neighboring Bulgaria (martenitsa) and Romania (martisor). Martenitsa, or red and white, symbolize the desire for good health and also announces coming of spring. According to some beliefs, the red color symbolizes blood and the white symbolizes purity, to another they symbolize life and death, then good and evil, and joy and sorrow in the life of one man.

One of the customs says that Martinka is received as a gift and that it is never bought for yourself, but it should be given to your loved ones and friends. It can be worn attached to the wardrobe or tied around the arm or neck. There are many beliefs about its removal, one being that when the first tree flourishes, martinka should be unchained and attach to it or when first common martin is seen, it should be removed from hand and placed under the first white stone, while in Bulgaria it is removed when they see the first stork and they hung it on a tree and make a wish.

There are many variants of this tradition and the symbol of Martenitsa. We do our best to preserve this tradition, which gives joy to many, especially to children. Symbol of new life, conception, fertility and, above all, a new spring. Colors that symbolize purity and harmony in life and the lives of loved ones.

Welcome to Baba Marta, and you, don't forget to give away at least one martenitsa.

FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN - TODAY IS PROCHKA

Today Orthodox believers celebrate the feast of Forgiveness or Forgiveness Sunday, known as Prochka or Veliki Pokladi, which belongs to the greatest Christian holidays, right after Christmas and Easter according to some.

With Prochka begins the long Easter fasting period filled with many customs and beliefs, with many disclaimers and hopes to welcome Christ's resurrection (Easter), for communion and identification with the Savior Jesus Christ.

Prochka (Forgiveness Sunday) is carried with rich customs such as forgiveness, then special ritual with eggs called 'amkanje', sacred bonfires, rich table, life divination, cleansing against pests and so on.
Amkanje is a custom held on the evening of Prochka, when the family would gather at home. The custom is practiced so that the unpeeled boiled egg is attached with hemp thread and hang on a wand or a rolling pin. Then children sit at the table and knelt on their knees, and an adult brings the egg closer to the mouth of each child and the child shouts "am, am" and attempts to catch the egg with his mouth.

The custom of forgiveness starts from the Christian conception of aiding and forgiveness between people. It is believed that on this day heaven and earth forgive each other, so people should do that too.
And people ask for forgiveness from one another for their mistakes. Usually younger ask for forgiveness from the older, children from parents, baptized from their best man, and friends, relatives, neighbors are also forgiven.

Today Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast of Forgiveness, when people with raisins, orange or an apple forgive each others sins and wish health, happiness and love with shaking hands.

Younger three times bows before the elder and says: "Forgive me!" To which elder one responds: "You are forgiven from me and the Lord,"or just: "You are forgiven."

The Monday after Prochka is called Clean Monday and from then, long Easter fasting begins. On this day we clean the house with particular attention to wash dishes.

TRADITIONAL KUKUREC IN SAUCE

Kukurec is a traditional dish which is usually prepared for Easter. It is prepared from knitted lamb chitterlings and tripe cut into strips. It is considered as one of the best lamb specialties in our country. Preparation is easy, just follow the procedure. The most important part is cleaning the of intestines, they have to be 100% clean.


Ingredients:


  • 1 braid of lamb intestines
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper in grains
  • pinch of salt
For the sauce:

  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tbs bukovska pepper (chilly or sweet)
  • 1 tbs Vegeta
  • 1-2 tbs of dried mint
  • some ground black pepper
  • 5-6 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
  • water, oil, salt
Preparation:
  1. Put cleaned intestines in water and put on fire to boil. When it starts to boil, pour the water. Repeat the procedure again. In the third water add salt, black pepper and bay leaves, add the intestines and leave to boil for several minutes. Kukurec is cooked when it can be easily stabbed with a fork.
  2. Put cooked kukurec in an earthenware and pour with oil.
  3. For sauce: mix flour, black pepper, Bukovska pepper, Vegeta, mint and garlic in a bowl. Add cold water and mix until unite. The mixture should not be too thick.
  4. Add this mixture to kukurec. Then add liquid in which it was cooked. Pour liquid just to almost cover kukurec. Stir to avoid lumps.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 C degrees for about 1 hour, until liquid evaporates and kukurec gets fine flushed color. While baking, flip kukurec on the other side so both sides are baked well.
  6. Serve cut in into pieces and covered with the sauce. Combine with Macedonian wine and enjoy.
  7. Note: This kukurec was prepared with intestines and lamb krezla, I could't find a translation or the word 'krezla' in English, though it can be made without krezla of course.

PASHA MEATBALL (PASHA KJOFTE)

This dish is old, Macedonian, our grandmothers prepared it. It's possible it has Turkish roots, because the word 'Pasha' or 'Paşa' represents a higher rank in the Ottoman Empire political and military system, typically granted to governors, generals, dignitaries and others. However, Macedonia was under Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries and many recipes are inherited from the Turkish cuisine. This dish is consisted of small meatballs in a special soup prepared from flour which we call 'kasha'.


Ingredients:

For the meatballs:
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 50 g rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 grated onion
  • finely chopped parsley
  • ground black pepper
  • ¼ tbs salt
For kasha (soup):
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • oil
  • 1,5 liters of water 
  • 2-3 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 large carrot
  • 5-6 pieces of garlic
  • mixed spices (vegeta), black pepper, parsley, bay leaf
Preparation:
  1. First boil rice until half cooked.
  2. Mix minced meat with onions. Add dried spices, black pepper, salt and parsley and add cooked rice. Mix well everything, then form balls with a size of a ping-pong ball.
  3. Fry meatballs in hot oil.
  4. When done, remove meatballs from the pot and align on a kitchen paper.
  5. In the same pot, add carrots to fry a bit, then add the flour to fry just a little to change color.
  6. Then pour water and add chopped garlic, black pepper, mixed dried spices to taste, bay leaf and tomato puree and return meat balls in the pot. Leave to simmer quietly until rice in balls is fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Serve warm.

14TH OF FEBRUARY-THE DAY OF ST.TRYPHON

Every year on February 14th, Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Trifun (holy Tryphon, Trifon). It is believed that St. Trifon is a keeper of the vineyards and inns, and also of marital love and fidelity.
On February 14th, winemakers go to the vineyards for the first time in the new calendar year and begin to cut vines, and it is believed that St. Trifon on his day sticks a torch in the ground and the snow begins to melt. Many believe that spring begins on this day and that nature and love among people wake up. If rain falls on the feast of St. Trifon, plum will have a good harvest.
People relate different customs and stories to this holiday. Snow can still surprise you, but it is considered a symbol of prosperity.

Legend says that St. Tryphon was born in the village Kampsadi in Phrygia and lived in the third century. His parents were poor, and since he was a child he kept geese of wealthy locals for a piece of bread. A legend, however, says that he had healing powers since childhood and the Roman Emperor Gordian, whose daughter Gordijana was mentally ill, learned about  his abilities and none of the doctors could help her. In such a situation, the legend tells that once the evil spirit spoke from her and that no one could expel him except Tryphon. But, the king didn't know which Trifon is the healer so he ordered to bring all man named Trifon and try to cure his daughter. After some time, Phrygia king's army found the small and modest boy Tryphon and took him to the emperor in Rome. Poor boy will instantly heal the girl, and the king will richly reward him, but the boy on his return to home gave away all the gifts to the poor. When he returned to his village, he continued to live as before, to keep geese. When the new king Dakij heard about his powers, as a great opponent of Christianity, he orders to close the boy in a cell and to expose him to great torture. But Tryphon shall bear all tortures until he was stabbed with a sword. He was only 18 years old.
According to another version, St. Tryphon was tied to a horse and dragged on rocks and thorns, and died before the act of execution.

St. Tryphon is being celebrated in the Orthodox world for centuries. He is being honored by many guilds, primarily bartenders and winemakers and growers because he is a protector of wine and vine. It is said that on this day, good innkeepers give free wine to guests.

EASY AND FAST BABKA CAKE

I love babka cake, I like its shape and usually the cake is very tasty. I know this recipe since my mom prepared it in a pan. When I was a kid, babka molds didn't existed, so we baked it in a regular pan. I've tried different recipes for preparing babka cake and many times it turned out badly. Sometimes it bakes only on the sides and stays unbaked in the middle, sometimes it overlaps the mold and makes mess in my oven, I hate that. This recipe is the best, cake turns out just the way it should be, evenly baked and fills the mold perfectly.

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml oil
  • 15 tablespoons flour
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 50 g grated chocolate for cooking
  • a handful of crushed nuts

Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs and sugar.
  2. Add milk, oil and gradually add flour and baking powder.
  3. Add walnuts and grated cooking chocolate and mix.
  4. Coat the mold for babka with butter and pour the mixture.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C degrees around half an hour. Check with toothpick if it's ready.
  6. Leave to cool, then remove from the mold and cut in pieces. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting.

MACEDONIAN MAZNIK

Maznik is a traditional Macedonian swirl pastry, made of thin kneaded dough, filled with white cheese, spinach, leeks or minced meat and then rolled in a swirl form. It's very popular, like zelnik or burek. Homemade maznik is the best, you can't buy that good maznik in a store. This is one of the easiest maznik recipes, try it and impress your family or friends. It's not that hard to make it as you think, believe me.
maznik


Ingredients:
  • 700 g flour 
  • about 250 ml lukewarm water
  • about 200 ml of oil
  • pinch of salt
  • filling optional (spinach, cheese, minced meat, leeks, sauerkraut)
Preparation:
  1. Place flour in a bowl and add salt and water.
  2. Knead soft dough and add water if necessary until dough is soft. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Form 6-8 balls from the dough, then make small disks from each (diameter 15 cm) by pressing dough with your hands, then cover them with oil. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer disks to work on the middle of a table cloth, and roll out as much as greater crust as you can. Then gradually start pulling the edges of the sheet until you get a thin crust. Remove edges of the crust (you'll use them later). Sprinkle crust with oil and apply the prepared filling. Bend crusts in a roll form. Then bend in a swirl form and put in a oil coated circular baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle some oil and water on top before baking.
  6. Bake at 250 C degrees for 20-25 minutes until maznik gets a beautiful golden/red color.
  7. After baking, cover pie with wet kitchen towel, then serve. Serve with fermented milk.
  8. Make small balls from the thick ends of the remaining dough, coat with oil and leave to rest for half an hour. Stretch each ball the size of a hotplate and bake directly on the hotplate. Make tacos, they are delicious.



DELICIOUS TEA BISCUITS WITH GINGER AND CINNAMON

This is a recipe for delicious crunchy tea biscuits which are easy to make and even easier to eat, you have to try the recipe, they are very tasty. After baking, your home will smell wonderful, even the next day. I love the smell of baked cookies mixed with cinnamon. I baked these yesterday and when I got up this morning, my home smelled like in my granny's kitchen :)
tea biscuits


Ingredients:
  • 200 g butter softened at room temperature or lard
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • 350 g flour (you can put half wholewheat flour)
  • 1-2 tsp ginger in powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sachet baking powder
Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs with sugar and add the butter.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, mix with a mixer, then knead the dough by hand shortly to unite. Put it in a nylon bag and let rest in refrigerator for half an hour. 
  3. Divide the dough into 8 or more parts, size doesn't matter. Roll out a crust with a thickness of 5 mm from each piece and make forms. The dough is divided into more parts because it is impossible to roll out crust from the whole dough with the same thickness. The remaining dough which remains from removing the forms is kneaded again.
  4. Line up cookies in a pan coated with baking paper.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 to 220 Celsius degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. If your dough is thinner, the baking time is shorter.
  6. After baking, when cool, sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar or decorate as desired, I never add anything later because they are delicious as they are.
  7. Keep covered in a box, I have a tin box that I only keep for such cookies.
Enjoy!

CANDIED APPLES - A TASTE FROM CHILDHOOD

A dessert that will bring you back memories from your childhood. Candied apples or as we called them shekjerni jabolka (sugar apples) were my favorite dessert when I was a kid and I had the privilege to eat one only on holidays or when circus came to town, when they were available for sell. We ate them, our parents ate them and now our kids love them. Here's how to make them at home.
candied apples


Ingredients: 
  • 10 small apples 
  • 1 kg of sugar 
  • 10 sticks 20 cm long 
  • 1 sachet red color for food
 Preparation:
  1. Wash apples well, I suggest you use organic apples if available. Remove handles and insert a stick in the middle of the apple.
  2. Put sugar in a pot and caramelize it until it gets pale yellow color. Be careful not to burn it. Add red color, stir and remove from fire. 
  3. Immediately dip and roll each apple in the prepared caramel and place on a baking paper. 
  4. Leave to cool and to harden well.
  5. Enjoy the taste of childhood!

SPINACH WITH EGGS IN A POT

This is one of my favorite dishes. Easy, fast and healthy, ready in 30 minutes. I prepare it once a week and my family loves it! For 4 adult people, I suggest you put 1 kg of spinach, given amounts are enough for 2 adults and 2 smaller children.
spinach in pot

Ingredients:
  • 500-600 g spinach-cleaned and chopped
  • 3 handfuls of rice 
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • salt or vegeta
  • 1 flat tbs of red ground pepper
  • oil
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 glasses of warm water
Preparation:
  1. Warm some oil in a pot and add spinach, close the lid and fry for 2-3 minutes. Spinach will flatten.
  2. Add rice, carrots, red pepper, 1/2 tbs vegeta or salt (around 1 flat tsp) and stir.
  3. Pour hot water, stir and leave to cook on a low temperature.
  4. If necessary, add more water.While cooking, stir spinach 2-3 times so the rice won't fall at the bottom. Spinach should be thick with a little liquid in the end (as in pic).
  5. Before the end, add the eggs on top and leave to cook for 5 more minutes with closed lid.
  6. Serve warm with sour cream or fermented milk.
Enjoy!

EASY DELICIOUS HOMEMADE WAFERS (MY MOM'S RECIPE)

This is my favorite homemade wafers recipe. My mom has been preparing wafers this way for ages. When I was a kid, I was in charge in applying the filling, I enjoyed doing that. These wafers are the best eaten the next day, when they stick well. I used blender/chopper for crushing the nuts and the biscuits. The best part is that you won't make lots of mess in your kitchen, they are easy to prepare, don't require baking and the best part is that they are delicious! I usually cut one row and eat it, I can't eat just a piece or two :)
homemade wafers


Ingredients:
  • 500 ml water
  • 500 g sugar
  • 50-100 g of cooking chocolate
  • 250 g of butter (or margarine)
  • 100-150 g of crushed walnuts
  • 250 g of crushed biscuits
  • 1 packing wafers
Preparation:
  1. Put water and sugar to boil in a pot on a low heat for around 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from fire and add butter and leave to melt. Then add chocolate and stir until it melts.
  3. Add nuts and biscuits and mix well.
  4. When the mixture cools, take one wafer, add filling all over, then place other wafer and continue until you spent all filling and wafers. Cover with kitchen towel and put a heavier object on top to stick more easily. Leave overnight. Cut as desired and place pieces in a plastic container with a lid.


VODICI - THE DAY ST.JOHN BAPTIZED JESUS

Vodici or Bogojavljenie or Theophany, is the day on which according to Christian tradition, Sveti Jovan Krstitel (St. John the Baptist) baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
Vodici is celebrated two days. The first day January 19th is also called Male Vodici and the second on 20th January, Gathering of St. John the Baptist also called Female Vodici.
vodici

Traditionally today in Macedonia in almost all settlements, priests throw a ritual cross into a larger water - river, lake or pool, and people jump into the water and try to catch the cross. It is thought that on that day all waters are baptized and that the one who will catch the cross will have luck the next year.

This ritual symbolizes the entering of Christ in the River Jordan. In biblical Palestine, in Jordan, was heard the voice of the Holy Prophet John the Baptist, who called people to repent for their sins and receive baptism. He baptized people of Jerusalem and all Judea. The Lord Jesus Christ came to John at the Jordan waters. He recognized the greatness of Christ's divine nature and therefore he was saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world upon Himself". He baptized Christ in the River Jordan.

Once baptized, he came out of the river, heavens opened and the Spirit of God as a dove in bodily form descended upon Him. Voice from heaven spoke, "This is My beloved Son!" The voice of the Father is referred to His Son, but because of him, he is calling all people of the world to become the sons and daughters of God.

With this holiday is given the meaning of baptism as one of the most sacred secrets of Christianity. Baptism means spiritual birth, the start of human life in faith. Therefore the godfather is considered the spiritual parent of the baptized and closest relative. With this holiday end not only the twelve unbaptized days, but also ends the festivities cycle that is associated with Badnik, Christmas, New Year (Vasilitsa) and so on.

TODAY IS VODOKRST (EVE OF THEOPHANY or BLESSING THE WATERS)

Today, 18th of January, is a strict post - Orhodox Christians in Macedonia and worldwide are celebrating Vodokrst (the Eve of Theophany) and tomorrow are Vodici (Theophany).
vodokrst
The holiday is known under the names Vodokrshtenie and Vodokrst or Vodopost (fasting with water), as the day of strict fasting, where one is only fasting with water.

On January 18th is celebrated the feast Vodici or Blessing of Waters. The Holy Church praises the strength and power of the Cross.

Baptism of water is performed and the power of the Holy Spirit receives healing powers. The feast was established in a memory of former rituals that were performed on that day when
people who accepted Christianity were baptized .

A day before the great Christian holiday - Vodici (Theophany), an
Theophany ceremony is performed on the feast called Vodokrst - Blessing of Waters.

TONIGHT IS ORTHODOX NEW YEAR AND TOMORROW IS VASILICA

According to the Julian calendar, Orthodox Christians will welcome the Orthodox New Year tonight (also known as old new year), which begins tomorrow on Vasilica (Vassilitsa).
Many Macedonian families celebrate Vasilica as a home feast, and those who bear the name of Sveti Vasilij Velik (St. Basil the Great), celebrate their name day. Similar to Badnik (the Christmas Eve), family dinner table also includes breaking bread with a coin which is divided to family members. It is believed that the one who gets the coin, will have happy and prosperous year.
On the occasion of the 3 Christian holidays: Orthodox New Year, the Feast of the Lord Circumcision and St. Basil the Great day, tomorrow in the temples of the Macedonian Orthodox Church will be served sacred liturgy of St. Basil.
St. Basil the Great is one of the three largest religious teachers of the fourth century. He was born in Cappadocia and finished school in Athens. He was a great Christian philosopher, and became famous as a bishop and defender of the purity of Orthodox teachings. St. Basil the Great passed away on January 14 in the year 379.
vasilitsa

Church says that the only justifiable tradition is that the bread with coin (or maznik with coin) is always prepared on Vasilica and it is linked to life story of St. Basil the Great. There is one event which tells that when a king who wanted to destroy the city was coming, St. Basil asked people to give some money (coins) to bribe the king in some way, to not hurt people. But, the king died and didn't come to the city, so Basil the Great confronted the dilemma of how to return wealth to the people. And not everyone gave the same amount. He ordered the city bakeries to knead bread in ovens and to put coins inside. Then bread was divided among people. And God's miracle happened and everyone was returned exactly the same amount of coins as they gave. Because of this dedication, we commemorate each Vasilica by placing a coin in the bread. We remember the miracle that God made through the holy Basil.
Besides the Macedonian Orthodox Church, according to the Julian calendar, religious holidays also celebrate the Russian and Serbian Church and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the monks of Mount Athos. Unlike them, the Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian and Georgian Orthodox Church follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrate Vasilica on 1st of January.

BEANS WITH RIBS

I like beans, but I like beans more when combined with some meat. I love the smell that dried ribs give to the stew, it's like a whole different meat. I've been waiting for this post for some while, it's ideal for snowy and cold weather.
beans with ribs


Ingredients:
(For 4-6 people)

  • 500 g of beans (tetovsko gravche)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 larger carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 600 g of dry, fleshy, ribs
  • 70 ml of oil
  • 2 flat tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon red ground pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf


Preparation:

  1. First clean beans from damaged grains, pour with hot water and leave to stand for 30 or more minutes. 
  2. Then, spill water and add a new lukewarm water and put beans on the stove to cook on low fire. Add washed ribs, black pepper and bay leaf.
  3. In a meanwhile, fry a bit finely chopped onion with finely chopped carrot and when softened, add to the beans. Check if beans need more water. Cooking time is around 1 hour or more, depends on how old are the beans.
  4. When beans soften and are almost ready, put some oil in the same pan where you cooked onions, when oil starts to warm up, add flour by constantly stirring, add grated garlic, red ground pepper, mix  all well and add to the beans. Add salt to taste (be aware that ribs contain salt) and leave to cook for 20 more minutes on a very low heat.
  5. Before serving sprinkle with some fresh parsley leaves.
Enjoy!