Albania, like many other nations, has its own unique New Year’s Eve traditions. Read about what makes this holiday so significant in the country in today’s blog post.
Albanian households traditionally celebrate the New Year with a table full of diverse foods with the entire family present. In contrast to many other European nations, where Christmas is the most significant holiday, in Albania, New Year’s Eve supper is the most important occasion and is used to bring all family members together, including those who live abroad.
This custom of family joy is carried on by young people today, who normally opt to celebrate with their families until midnight, then join their friends in clubs to dance and revel until the early hours of the first day of the year.
The intense sense of joy and family reunion on December 31st may be traced back to traditions acquired during the Communist era. All religious celebrations, notably on Christmas Day, were forbidden under authoritarian rule. As a result, New Year’s Eve rose in importance as a non-religious joyous day, and it became something of a make-up for the lack of Christmas.
On New Year’s Eve, a lavish table is set, signifying the intended prosperity for the new year, with lots of meat, salads, desserts, and numerous beverages. The proposing of toasts is a unique holiday tradition: there is normally one toast at the beginning of the dinner and/or at midnight, but further toasts can be given during the meal in honor of certain family members and relations.
The main meal on the New Year’s Eve dinner is roasted turkey with grits (crushed soda bread poured into turkey broth). In addition, baked or grilled beef, lamb, or pork are frequently provided.
If you’re planning a trip to Albania in March, don’t miss Dita e Verës or “Summer Day” in English – one of the country’s liveliest and most beautiful celebrations, which takes place every year on March 14 in various places throughout Albania.
Even if it is held in the early days of spring, Albanians commemorate Dita e Vers, the country’s greatest pagan festival and one of the most important festivals in Albania, every year on March 14. The goal of this energetic event is to commemorate the end of winter while also celebrating the return of nature with its vibrant colors and flowers. Summer Day was first to become an official holiday in Albania in 2004, however it has been observed from ancient times.
Dita e Verës can be traced back to the temple of Zana Malit or Muse of the Mountain, established near the city of Elbasan, according to mythology. Zana was the goddess of nature, and she would only leave her temple on March 14, which was the first day of summer at the time.
Despite the fact that this major occasion is commemorated in various locations around Albania, the most prominent celebration takes place in Elbasan, one of the country’s largest cities, located about one hour from the capital. So, if you want to be a part of this historic event and live it like a native, skip Tirana and go to Elbasan instead. We highly advise you to leave Tirana early in the morning, since the streets get quite congested and getting to Elbasan might be challenging.
Elbasan Albanians know how to celebrate Dita e Verës, with parades, music, and bonfires all around town. The creation of sweets, particularly Ballakume, a giant cookie prepared with butter, sugar, maize flour, and egg yolks, begins in the early days of March, as part of the summer day tradition. Cookies, colors, flowers, enthusiasm, and a lot of people can be seen all over town on March 14: the streets and cafés of Elbasan are packed with families, children, teens, and old men and women, all eager to commemorate the occasion.
Nowruz is a national holiday in Albania, and it is widely observed, particularly among Bektashi believers. The Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, is celebrated as Nowruz (meaning “new day”). Sultan Novruz’s Day commemorates Imam Ali’s birth at the Kaaba. Everything is being resurrected today; there is hope, and all mankind is being resurrected. It’s a new day, and everyone is looking forward to a brighter future.
“Nevruzi” is a Persian word that means “New Day,” and “Sultan” is a prestigious title that emphasizes the significance of this day. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Sultan Novruz’s festival, along with the Bektashi religion, came in Albanian borders. This festival has become a widespread expression in the twentieth century, particularly among the youth.
Albania’s atheist Communist regime banned all cult objects, including those of the Bektashi religion, in 1967. In 1996, Novruz Day, the most major Bektashism festival, was declared a national holiday in Albania. The Bektashi Sect is mostly found in the country’s south, although it also has a significant presence in the Republic of Albania. The Bektashis are also found in Kosovo and Macedonia, where they coexist with Sunnis to form the Albanian Muslim community.
The Bektashi World Center is located in Tirana, Albania. In the northeastern suburbs of Tirana, the Bektashi World Centre has a large and spectacular tekke (teqe) with a fascinating museum in the basement and a modest gift store where tourists may buy different Bektashi-related gifts. The Teqe is covered with marbled mosaics in a stunning assortment of colors and designs from top to bottom. The Bektashi Order is a dervish order that combines Shia and Sufi components into a unique combination of Islamic doctrine and philosophy.
The Bektashi Order was briefly outlawed by Ottoman authorities in 1826, but it reappeared later in the nineteenth century, only to be outlawed again by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk shortly after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, prompting the order to relocate its headquarters to Albania in 1925.
On September 8, 2015, the full restoration of the holy complex was launched in the presence of the leaders of all Albanian religious groups as well as representatives of Islam communities from around the Balkans, Europe, and beyond. Albania is well-known for its religious tolerance across the world.
Albania enjoys “two Easters,” providing visitors the option of experiencing one, the other, or both, depending on their visit and length of stay. The Gregorian calendar is used by Catholics, whereas the Julian calendar is used by Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Easter is normally at least a week later than Catholic Easter.
It’s fascinating to note that these festivals are now key holiday days for every Christian household, despite the fact that they were forbidden for more than half a century during the communist era. No reference of “Easter Sunday” or Christ’s Resurrection is permitted. They were unable to attend Church or do the prescribed rites. Enver Hoxha’s dictatorship professed to establish an atheist state, therefore religious holidays were outlawed. When the democratic era arrived, however, all Catholics and Orthodox Christians returned to their traditions, marking these dates on their own calendars.
However, they all perform the same things in general.Despite having differing dates, both Catholic and Orthodox believers attend services throughout Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday vigils are held by both faiths to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ. Early morning prayer and singing sessions are held by Orthodox after the vigil.
Both faiths adorn Easter eggs, with the Orthodox coloring many of their eggs crimson to represent Christ’s blood. Easter meal for Orthodox includes a special Easter bread, cognac, and roast lamb. In truth, all Albanians like to participate in cultural or traditional Easter activities, because Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims in our country frequently “borrow, mix, and match” religious feasts and traditions. Our religious tolerance and harmony are well-known.
Visit Tirana’s St Paul’s Cathedral for Catholic Easter services. It is part of the Tiranë-Durrës Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa are shown in the stained glass window to the left of the main entryway. A statue of Mother Teresa may also be located at the cathedral’s entryway. On January 26, 2002, it was officially opened.
Attend Orthodox Easter services in Tirana’s Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral. The cathedral is one of the largest in the Balkans, having been completed in 2012. It has a massive 16-bell tower with an Orthodox-style cross atop it, with four “Paschal candles” representing the illumination of the four Gospel Resurrection stories.
However, there are other additional churches in Tirana and around Albania. The most well-known is Kisha e Lacit, which is about an hour’s drive from Tirana. Shkodra and Lezha, where the catholic community is larger, host the largest festival events. So, if you’re in Tirana these days, you might opt to visit these places, which are around two hours away from Tirana, and immerse yourself in the true festive spirit.
People generally rejoice with their relatives and friends after church services.
For most Albanians, this is a modest holiday, but one that they love regardless. In Albania, a few individuals may join labor rallies or marches on Labor Day, but the majority of people are concerned with family, pleasure, and food.
Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month, which lasts between 29 and 30 days for Muslims in Albania and around the world.
On Thursday morning, tens of thousands of Albanian Muslims gathered at Scanderbeg Square for prayers that lasted just over 40 minutes.
Muslims observed the conclusion of Ramadan for the second year in a row under the shadow of the Covid-19 outbreak. Nonetheless, Albanian Muslims were able to attend the wedding at Tirana’s main square. Albanian politicians have also expressed their condolences to the Muslim community. What is the meaning of Eid al Fitr? The completion of the fasting month, which lasts between 29 and 30 days, is marked by Eid a! Fitr, which translates as “festival of breaking the fast.” Traditionally, Muslims use the occasion to strengthen family and communal ties. Eid is announced at the beginning of the tenth month of the Islamic calendar called Shawwal, which follows the month of Ramadan. The sighting of the moon is therefore important in announcing the start of a new lunar month.
Today is Eid al-Adha, which is observed by Muslims all around Albania. For their morning prayers, many Muslim believers have packed the main squares in cities around the country. They pay each other visits throughout the day and eat the traditional lunch, which consists primarily of lamb meat and is meant to symbolise a sacrifice to God.
Eid al-Adha, which means “Festival of Sacrifice” in Arabic, is the second of Islam’s two official festivals. It commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in response to God’s mandate. God gave a lamb to sacrifice instead of Ibrahim’s son before he could sacrifice his son.
Canonization of Saint Teresa. Mother Theresa Day (Albanian: Dita e Nënë Terezës) is a national holiday celebrated in Albania every year on September 5th.
The holiday commemorates Pope Francis’ canonization of Saint Teresa in 2016.
Prior to 2018, Mother Teresa’s beatification was commemorated with a holiday on October 19th. The day of Mother Teresa’s beatification will be replaced by the day of Saint Teresa’s canonization.
Mother Teresa was born on August 26th, 1910, in the Ottoman Empire’s Skopje (today the capital of North Macedonia). She was named Anjeza (Agnes) Gonxhe Bojaxhiu and was born into an Albanian household.
Agnes had been fascinated by missionary stories since she was a child, and when she was 18, she traveled to Ireland to study English in a nunnery. She arrived in India in 1929 and became a nun in 1931, taking the name Teresa after the patron saint of missionaries, Thérèse de Lisieux.
‘By blood, I am Albanian, by citizenship, an Indian, and by faith, I am a Catholic nun,’ Mother Teresa famously declared. Teresa’s Albanian ancestry is a source of pride for Albanians, and a national holiday was established in her honor to commemorate her beatification. The devotion with which Mother Teresa is cherished in Albania was further demonstrated in 2010, when the year was designated as the ‘Year of Mother Teresa’ to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth. In Tirana, Albania’s capital, she is honored with the names of the international airport, the primary hospital, and the second-largest public square.
Various festivities and concerts, particularly in Tirana, are being held to commemorate the momentous day of independence. In the presence of the President, Prime Minister, Mayor of Tirana, and other officials, the Albanian flag is ceremonially raised in Tirana, Albania’s capital. They also pay a visit to the cemetery of the national martyrs. Famous Albanian singers and dancers perform at concerts in Tirana’s center. Many young people come out to the streets dressed in Albanian flags even in the worst winters, while many Albanians stay at home and watch the events on TV. Various festivities and concerts, particularly in Tirana, are being held to commemorate the momentous day of independence. In the presence of the President, Prime Minister, Mayor of Tirana, and other officials, the Albanian flag is ceremonially raised in Tirana, Albania’s capital. They also pay a visit to the cemetery of the national martyrs. Famous Albanian singers and dancers perform at concerts in Tirana’s center. Even in the coldest of climates.
Today is another day of celebrations following yesterday’s Independence Day celebrations. In Albania, the 29th of November (‘Dita e Clirimit’) commemorates the liberation of the country from Nazi Germany during World War II.
Liberation Day is significant for Albanians since there are still people alive who recall those events firsthand. Several celebrations and memorial services are held, and people gather to remember the war’s casualties and to celebrate freedom and hope.
While freedom from the Nazis was a positive thing, it also signaled the start of what would become Albania’s darkest period: the leadership of the cruel Enver Hoxha, who would shatter the country’s and people’s hearts for decades.
Every year on December 8th, Albania celebrates National Youth Day.
This holiday remembers the student demonstrations that brought the People’s Republic to an end in 1990.December 8th has been observed as a national holiday in Albania since 2009, following a vote by the Albanian Parliament, in commemoration of all students participated in the December 1990 events, as well as all Albanian youth.
The “December Movement” prompted the Communist Group of Labour of Albania’s Central Committee to accept political pluralism on December 11th, 1990, with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, being created the next day.
Christmas is one of the most prominent festivals in Albania, and it is widely observed as a memorial of the birth of Lord Jesus and is celebrated with great mirth by the Albanian people. Muslims and Christians coexist in the country’s population. However, Christmas in Albania is remarkable in that both populations celebrate the holiday with practically equal enthusiasm.
Albanians have a strong tie with their family members, and family values are extremely important to them. As a result, Christmas in Albania is a family event. People in this region like celebrating the event with their complete family.
Christmas customs in this country are more or less the same as in the rest of the globe. All Albanian Christians religiously observe popular practices such as attending midnight mass on December 24th and heading to church in the morning. Gift-giving is a long-standing custom, as it is in other Western countries. Albanians share gifts with their friends, family members, and everyone else they connect with during the year during the Christmas season.
In Albania, feasting is a big part of the Christmas celebrations. Every family in the nation prepares exquisite Christmas feasts in the traditional style on Christmas Day. The most essential aspect of a Christian supper is the stuffed turkey and exquisite desserts. Baklava, often called “Baklavash” in America, is a specialty of the Albanian Christmas meal. The “Bakllava,” which is similar to a pie but significantly more difficult to create, is one of the most delicious dishes served during Albanian Christmas dinners.
In Albanian Christmas, the Christmas tree is an important component. A gigantic Christmas tree is adorned every year in Tirana, Albania’s capital city, during the holiday season. This looks a lot like New York’s iconic Christmas tree. During the festival, elaborate parties are held in several of the country’s most well-known hotels.