Thousands of Macedonians and hundreds of tourists from different parts of
Balkans came to Strumica in February to celebrate the traditional carnival that
marks the beginning of the Easter observance.
The Strumica carnival is a masquerade, originating from the religious Day
of Forgiveness, a day when the Orthodox Christians seek forgiveness for their
sins. This year it began on February 27th. The carnival lasts three days, a
period known as the Trimeri, in which believers fast.
The carnival’s origins trace back to famed Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi,
who when visiting Macedonia in 1670, wrote that he saw masked people in
Tourists come to Macedonia every year especially for the carnival. Usually,
hotels in Strumica and in neighbouring towns are fully booked.
About 3,000 people took part in the carnival this year, including about 250
people representing 14 masked groups from Bulgaria and Croatia.
It began with the masquerade, where the crowd selected the carnival’s King
and the Queen, who then led the carnival procession.
Cobra costumes were the part of this procession.
“We are preparing for the carnival throughout the whole year,” said Violeta
Timova, one of the participants. “First we think about the mask and then we are
preparing the costumes. It is a wonderful feeling to be a part of this
Mostly, people create masks by themselves. But bigger groups have their own
High school students dressed as snowflakes, as a reminder of the long, cold
Two groups -- Starry City and Moulin Rouge -- were awarded medals by the
president of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC) in appreciation
of their participation.
Prizes for the best masks range from 100 to 800 euros.
Funding for the celebrations comes from the Strumica mayor’s office, the
municipality, and private sources.