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Pėrdorimi i ēėshtjes
I vjetėr 14.3.2008, 09:43   1
Anėtarėsuar: 6.2001

Punim Summer Day magic as Albania celebrates its biggest pagan festival

03.14.2008 / Vargmal

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Tirana – On March 14th, 2008. Albanians celebrate their
biggest national pagan festival, known as the Summer
Day, the time of awakening from winter slumber and
rebirth of nature. This ancient festival is held yearly
all over the country, but has been fanatically preserved
and brought to this very day into its organic form in the
city of Shkumbin (Elbasan), south of Tirana, the
country’s capital.
Today is March 14th, otherwise known all over the country as the Summer Day. Made by now an exclusive national festival and an official national holiday, the Summer Day symbolizes the rebirth of nature, the awakening from winter slumber and the rejuvenation of spirit.

The epicenter of the festival will again undoubtedly be the city of Shkumbin (Elbasan) where festivities will be attended this year by the highest authorities of the country. Being a national pagan festival, the Summer Day is witnessed also in the Arbėresh colonies in Italy.

Events in the capital

In the capital, Tirana, there have been organized a series of exciting events. Official festivities will open at 900 hrs in the morning with the City Music Band and will end at 2100hrs at night with a massive concert. This year foreign artists will also be present on stage. The festive marathon shall cross the central avenue up to 1100 hrs. At this time Rinia Park will be flooded by circus acrobats and performers who mixing with the crowd will perform their special games and tricks. Other events will follow, many of which will be a surprise for the public on site. No one should miss the magic to be sprinkled upon the streets of the capital.

History of the festival

In ancient times, March 14th, the Summer Day festival has been held in the city of Shkumbin (Elbasan). Known as the day of winter's departure, the festival is also celebrated in many other parts of the country and other national territories like in the Highlands, Dardany, Macedonia and Albanian communities in Western Europe and Americas.

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Summer day celebrations, March 14th, 2008, Tiranė
The origin of the Shkumbin Summer Day has been tracked to the temple of the Mountain Muse (Zana Malit, Zana e Ēermenikės) which was built in the periphery of the city of Shkumbin. According to the legend the Muse was the goddess of hunting, forests and all nature. She would come out of her temple on March 14th, thus marking the coming of summer. Passed on from generation to generation the national festival has become a day by which the city of Shkumbin (Elbasan) itself has come to be identified with, and renowned for the unique cultural heritage it holds.

But the Summer Festival celebrated in the otherwise known as the umbilical city of the nation, is not a local event at all. Many guests pour in from all parts of the country to attend the arrival of summer, and naturally to taste the characteristic food of the region like the ballakums and the traditional cake that on this day are prepared somewhat “differently”.” Turkeys, walnuts, loads of dry figs are traditionally given to little children, who on their turn are the first to make the visits of good luck and prosperity in the houses of kin and family.

Our ancestors tell that the night before Summer Day, people would gather early on in their houses to celebrate with kin and family the prologue of the festival. The waking was then done early in the morning. The elders would be the first to open the doors of the house for bounty and the ones to pick up the pitcher and go out and fill it with fresh water. On return they would bring home a slab of soil, new roots and grass as nature was reborn.

The lunch on this day is a ritual of good humor and taste for everyone in Shkumbin (Elbasan), and people usually follow the rites in open nature, where they also organize traditional games. Here the natives do celebrate the Summer Night and the Summer Day with roast meat, wine, raki, turkeys, ballakums, sweets, and so on. On this day people wish to each other long and happy life.

Adapted in English from BW article:
  Pėrgjigju duke cituar
I vjetėr 14.3.2008, 14:11   2
Anėtarėsuar: 6.2001
More photos, shot two hours ago in Tirana, here: https://vargmal.org/lg/dan1896
  Pėrgjigju duke cituar
I vjetėr 15.3.2008, 08:31   3

Shkrim i cituar Summer Day: The joy of celebrating tradition

March 15th, 2008 / Vargmal

The Summer Day for Mino family, in the capital Tirana, started with the walk of grandpa, grandma and their two nieces Ina and Sindi. The four of them bought the traditional ballakums, while the children preferred playing with their age-mates in the fields of Rinia Park.

“For us the Summer Day has always been a feast-day. When the festival was forbidden, the children would just wear simple red and white ribbons and would afterwards wait for martins to fly down to come and get them” – says grandpa Rrapi Mino.

Meanwhile a special lunch prepared with food characteristic to this very day, is waiting to be savored. “Since we have always celebrated the Summer Day, and since it is already being celebrated also in the capital, we will follow our original tradition. This means that we’ve prepared a special lunch of roast meat, lamb, chops, steaks, sweets, and we also bought the ballakums, without which this wouldn’t be a Summer Day.” – says Rrapi Mino, resident of Tirana.

His two nieces Ina and Sindi seem to have been very eager to participate in the festival, as they have thought out everything, starting from their dresses to wear and ending to the toys and other small gifts they will get from their grandparents and family on this day. The walk along Tirana’s central avenue and the multitude of entertaining games seems to have given them very special moments.

In the meantime the parents of the two little girls have been organizing the special Summer Day lunch. “We’ll be lunching home at my son’s and his spouse’s, after attending the main events that have been organized today in the city. And we’ll follow the traditions to the letter as our forefathers taught us” – says Rrapi Mino’s wife.

For them, and for many more Albanians of all ages, this is a day that brings spiritual rejuvenation and the awakening from winter slumber.

Adapted in English from KJ article:
  Pėrgjigju duke cituar
I vjetėr 15.3.2008, 16:37   4
Anėtarėsuar: 6.2001

Shkrim i cituar Summer Day: Shkumbin sleepless for two nights

March 15th, 2008 / Vargmal

The city of Shkumbin (Elbasan) has seen yesterday the triple of its normal residents. Like never before in the city, have guests, visitors and tourists, arrived from all Albanian cities and territories Arbany (Albania and Macedonia), Dardany (Kosovo), Highland (Montenegro) and Chamery (Epirus). Not only were vehicles put aside because of congestion, but it also became difficult to move around even on foot. The river of people poured on all city streets up to midday, time when the pandemonium flooded the nearby forests.

The traditional Summer Day festival began gloriously, as any other year in the city of Shkumbin (Elbasan). The ancient pagan rite gathered around the traditional mahogany for two nights and two days all guests and visitors, Albanians and foreigners alike.

Most guests arrived on Thursday morning and following the tradition, they dined with the host families, savoring wine and raki, roasted meat and the irreplaceable ballakum.

The number of ballakums to have been baked for this festival reaches no less than one million pieces cooked and baked at home kitchens, and their triple number baked in commercial bakeries to be sold deliberately, without taking here into account the tens of villages of the wider region following the very same tradition.

To top it all the city authorities organized many and diverse events starting already from Thursday afternoon to keep guests entertained. No one really knows how much the city really spent this year for this pagan festival deeply rooted in Shkumbin’s tradition, but 2.5 million Lek have are mentioned to have been put at good use for pleasing the guests from Tirana, Prishtina, Shkup, Tetova, Ulqin and other Albanian cities as also many foreign tourists visiting the country.

Along the popular festivities, two days ago mayor Sejdini cut the ribbon of the yearly “Summer Days” fair in Shkumbin (Elbasan). Over 50 companies, nearly all of them Albanian, opened their pavilions in the Sports Palace, presenting a diverse range of homemade products to the public.

The city wearing its festive colors received by tradition the visit of Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, who upon arrival attended the fair and afterwards joined an international conference on tourism.

The festival kept its pace to the end, essentially making Shkumbin the capital of Albania for two days in a row while entertaining over 500.000 guests and visitors.

Adapted in English from SH article:
  Pėrgjigju duke cituar
I vjetėr 17.3.2008, 08:50   5
Shtyp mbi foto pėr pėrmasat origjinale

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A motorcyclist from an acrobatic troupe performs a stunt during Summer Day celebrations, a national holiday commemorating the ancient rituals marking the end of winter, in Tirana on March 14, 2008. The troupe is made up of members from Sweden, the United Kingdom and Belgium. © AFP / Gent Shkullaku

  Pėrgjigju duke cituar
I vjetėr 15.3.2010, 18:00   6
Anėtarėsuar: 6.2001
More photos:

March 14th 2009, Tiranė https://vargmal.org/lg/dan4179
March 14th 2010, Tiranė https://vargmal.org/lg/dan5654
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