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A Man Walks on the Ice-Covered Southeastern Macedonian Dojran Lake
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Macedonia Travel Guide:
Happy Birthday, Macedonia
Macedonian Wedding Traditions

Happy Birthday, Macedonia!   by Sam Vaknin

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The Republic of Macedonia is 16 years old: an adolescent with the problems and promises that characterize puberty. The country now has a young and dynamic leadership which has succeeded, in one short year, to transform Macedonia's image both domestically and abroad. According to repeated polls, for the first time in two decades, people are optimistic and investors sanguine.
But there are troubling currents afoot. Macedonia is undergoing a worrisome change of character. If not reversed, these malignant processes will backfire and Macedonia's hopes will be cruelly dashed. Under Nikola Gruevski, Macedonia, for the first time, stands a chance of becoming a prosperous member of Europe and the international community. Its history of self-destructive self-defeating behavior can be avoided.

Macedonians would do well to learn from the experience of the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus described in the following article.

*The following article was originally written about the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.*

All the countries in the mutilated post-Communist parts of Europe inevitably ended up poor. Yet, as opposed to their neighbors, some polities failed to alleviate their misery or ameliorate their dire predicament. The denizens of these states are not only impoverished - they also feel like losers and failures.

Vevcani Village, Macedonia
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To avoid confronting such unpalatable truths and to fend off a tormenting self-image, the citizenry of these places developed a host of psychological defense mechanisms.

1. Magical Thinking

The belief in a fantastic world in which miracles occur, saviors materialize, one is immune to the consequences of one's inaction, and all ends well, regardless of current realities. 
Ethnic Albanian Shepherd Herds His Sheep in the North-West Macedonian Village of Galata
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The leaders of such countries provide their voters with fairy tales and grandiose fantasies about multi-billion dollar investments, which typically never materialize. 

Worse still, this obsessive preoccupation with deus-ex-machina salvation-by-outsiders detracts from and distracts the scarce human resources at the disposal of the government. 

As a result, the authorities neglect to tackle the most pressing problems facing their nation: unemployment, dysfunctional institutions, and venality. In the meantime, asset bubbles - both in real estate and in the bloated and much-manipulated stock exchange - imperil the country's financial system.

2. Messianic-Religious Leadership

From the Caucasus to the republics of former Yugoslavia, leaders of economically decrepit countries in the region present themselves as either Messiah-like saviors or martyrs to the cause, hounded by a "hate-filled and jealous" opposition, or victimized by outside forces. Such leaders ostentatiously "dedicate themselves" to the nation, forsaking a private life or worldly pleasures.
Their subjects crave for honest and hard-working leadership and so hungrily succumb to the allure of ceaseless media campaigns, which border on a personality cult. They suspend their disbelief and dispense with rationality. The Dear Leader becomes the focal point of their hopes and dreams while other institutions - parliament, the judiciary, and the media - shrink and wither. 

Often, this populist worship results in an authoritarian regime that gradually, almost imperceptibly replaces consensus politics. The Beloved Leader keeps paying lip service to democracy and functioning institutions, but effectively, he contemptuously ignores them. He purges the civil service, staffing it with cronies and relatives, and he treats the opposition as traitors and enemies of the state.

3. Denial of Reality

From the Caucasus, through Central Asia, to the Balkans and Africa, unable to face the dismal condition of their countries, people choose to simply deny it. Hype and spin and public relations replace real action and substantive reforms.

Sveti Jovan at Kaneo Church, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
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The language itself is subverted: corruption is redefined by the powers that be to exclude blatant nepotism; a mere change of ownership hailed as a revolutionizing foreign investment; promises and plans presented as facts (faits accompli); statistical methodology altered to produce favorable results. Thus, reality is done away with and replaced with fantasy.

4. Aggressive Assertiveness

Rather than accept the fact that the nation's low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence are outcomes of its failures, the leadership reverses cause and effects: the country's repeated failures are now, officially, a RESULT of people's wavering self-esteem and self-confidence. People who doubt the leadership's claims and doctored data "don't believe in the future of the nation, don't believe that (insert the name of the country) can (succeed)." Dissidents are, therefore, branded as pusillanimous traitors.

Thus, everyone is encouraged to adopt a loathsome variant of newfound assertiveness that borders on narcissism and is unpleasantly aggressive. It does not reflect an inner conviction in the real capabilities and skills of the populace. It is merely demonstrative and hyperbolic.


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About the Author: Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East.   He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Macedonian Wedding Traditions   by Rafi Michael

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Galicnik which extends on the falls of mount Bistra is found 110 km away from the capital city of Macedonia. Each year Galicnik hosts a traditional Macedonian wedding in the beginning of July. This traditional wedding is a remainder of the past. When Galicnik had 1600 people living in 800 houses.
The sound of drums and trumpets echoes through mount Bistra and the valley of the river Radika. The people from Galicnik and some 7.000 quests from the Republic of Macedonia and from U.S.A, Germany, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and some other countries. Each tradition and ritual was followed with great interest and attention. All of this was captured on photo and film cameras.

This year the wedding started on Saturday afternoon with the arrival of the drums, and soon after that the mother in-low danced the (Svekrvino Oro) the Traditional Mother in-low dance.

In the front yard of the grooms house, girls and boys dressed in Traditional clothes which originate from Galicnik with flowers they decorated the "Barjak" which was then put on the house. The older people from Galicnik danced the "Hard Dance" (Teskoto) , the symbol at the people in this region.  Whale dancing, they were reminded at the hard past, at the fortune seeking, at the weddings and the happiness. A few tears rolled down their wrinkled cheeks in grief for the past and happiness that Galicnik still lives.

Old Vlach Mountain Village, Maloviste Village, Pelister National Park, Macedonia
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Old Vlach Mountain Village, Maloviste Village, Pelister National Park, Macedonia
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On the second day at the wedding the rituals continued. On this day the groom together with his closest relatives invite the Godfather to attend the wedding. Before the wedding column was formed, the groom was shaved and few traditional songs were sung: " Nejke zetot berber da go brici, tuk mi saka mlad pobratim...". In the moment when the the in-lows were on their way to the bride they carried out the custom "Bodinjanje" where they race who will be first to get to the brides house.

Many customs were carried out there too: looking through the ring, giving presents, carrying the dowry and taking the bride. During the two days, a number of customs and rituals could be seen on the Galicnik wedding.

This gave outside a glimpse of the richness and atmosphere of wedding in the past. The marriage ceremony attracted the most guests. This takes place in the church temple "St. Petar and St. Pavle" in Galicnik. Each year the temple in filled with people.


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Hotel Mramor, Skopje
This hotel is located in Skopje. Skopje City Stadium is an area attraction. Another nearby attraction is St. Kliment Church. Dining options at Hotel Mramor include a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. This 3.0-star property has a business center and offers small meeting rooms, secretarial services, and a technology helpdesk. High-speed Internet access is available in public areas. The property offers an airport shuttle (surcharge). Business services, translation services, and tour assistance are available. Guest parking is complimentary. Additional property amenities include a library, a coffee shop/café, and multilingual staff. 
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Holiday Inn Skopje is situated in the heart of the city, next to the most important Government and administrative offices, shopping centres, theatres, museums and cinemas. The hotel is only 25 km far from the international airport Aleksandar Veliki and is most convenient for business as well as for leisure travellers. Holiday Inn Skopje offers 178 comfortable rooms and suites on 9 floors. Each room is equipped with bath, air conditioning system,mini bar,direct telephone line with voice mail system,computer sockets, internet access, satellite and pay TV. Feel the pleasant atmosphere of the restaurant and enjoy the tasty international dishes or try the Macedonian meals and wines at the national restaurant. The Aperitif Bar is ideal meeting place offering a variety of domestic and international beverages, coffees and snacks. 
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