When the holiday season was approaching, I was pretty sure I would experience a heave dose of home sickness. The worst time of the year to be far away home is definitely Christmas. It is such a big holiday we practically celebrate it for an entire month! Family, shopping, parties, lights, ornaments, trees, cookies, stockings,and you can’t forget the music – All these things and more make up our Christmas season and I was sure that there would be a void during the holidays that only these things could fill.
But as it turns out, I didn’t miss a lot of those things. I definitely missed being around family and eating Christmas cookies while decorating the Christmas tree. Albanians celebrate New Years with a evergreen tree and Christmas lights and that was nice because it reminded me of home. On the other hand, I didn’t miss the crazy shopping season, grumy shoppers, and endless Christmas music.
Because there wasn’t a whole lot to go around during communism gift giving isn’t common here. Instead, Christmas is celebrated with lots of fireworks and a large meal with close family. For Christmas, I took a trip up to Bajram Curri and celebrated with some other volunteers. We held a small gift exchange and cooked a delicious meal of roasted chicken and tomato bisque
My host family invited me to come back and celebrate New Years with them. For dinner, we had a traditional Albanian New Years meal of turkey and something similar to grits made with the turkey grease. Everyone stayed up till midnight watching Albanian sketch comedy. Just before midnight we went outside to set off some fireworks. Never in my life have a seen so many fireworks set off so chaotically. The whole town was out with roman candles and bottle rockets. Looking out over the Elbasan valley was quite a sight because every village had a barrage of fireworks overhed.
All in all the holiday season was a lot of fun and memorable. Gëzuar Vitin e Ri për shumë vjet! Happy New Year for many years!