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Old 03-31-2020, 02:58 PM   #1
GStojanov
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Default Macedonian myths and customs in time of a plague

There are many customs and myths all over Macedonia for times when the plague was attacking. Here are few songs and dances:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na6BwZVmaaA

The main myth among Macedonians was that in time of a plague it was the fire that is sick and lost its protective and cleansing powers. So they were extinguishing the old fire and starting a new one. Here is how the ritual was performed.

Just after midnight ( во глуво доба ) all villagers will wake up and change in their best attire ( свечена промена ). They will start a procession from house to house, sing and dance and they will extinguish the fire in the house. Not a single amber can remain warm. They were dancing individually without touching each other, very unusual for Macedonian dances. Women were carrying candles or torches and singing songs that bargain with the plague. Men were carrying fire irons and inspecting the fireplaces. The youtube link above is one choreography of the custom.

After all fireplaces were inspected and the old fire extinguished, they were plowing a protection around the village. Two white two year old oxen were yoked, led by a young girl clothed in white. The plow was carried by a young teenage boy clothed in white. Before the sunrise ( во мугра ) they were starting to plow the protection and that was going on well into the day, until three plow marks were fully encircled around the village. No one was to cross them for forty days. No one was to exit or enter the village.

The new fire was started the old way, with flint stone and iron (кремен камен, огнило и трат). They were to make a bonfire and all were to jump over the new fire. If the new fire was healthy, the plague will not devastate the village and there will be survivors.

After forty days, if more than a third of the people died, they were to move the village to a new location. They were to change the name of the village to be similar but not the same.

I have learned about this custom from my grandfather. He remembered tales about his village that was moved like that 20 generations ago (пред 20 колена). We actually came to the subject when we were passing near an area that was barren. That was the location of the old village, and it was still left barren for something like 20 generations.

Later I spoke with an ethnologist and she confirmed that similar myths and customs exist all over Macedonia. The myth about the sick fire according to her, is one of the oldest existing myths in all of humanity and is universally found. The custom was last performed in 1947 during a bad outbreak of flu in the village of Kuklish, Strumica.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:42 PM   #2
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This is fascinating, thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-31-2020, 09:56 PM   #3
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Extremely interesting. Thanks G
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