TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION IN ALBANIA

If most of nations say Christmas tree, we say New Year’s tree. 31st of December was formed as a celebration during the period of Communism. Under the dictatorial regime, all religious events, especially Christmas Day, were prohibited. For this reason, New Year’s Eve as a non-religious festive day was in this date and it’s almost the same celebration as Christmas As for decorations every house is having Christmas Tree but most of us call it New Year Tree.


News Year’s Eve traditionally brings a rich table symbolizing the desired prosperity for the upcoming year, containing plenty of meat products as well as salads, sweets and various drinks. One special custom on this holiday is the proposing of toasts: There usually is one toast at the beginning of the dinner and/or at midnight, but additionally toasts can be proposed in honor of specific family members and relatives throughout the dinner.


A table full of various dishes and the whole family together – this is how Albanian families typically greet the new year. Unlike many other European countries, for which Christmas is the highlight of the year, in Albania the New Year’s Eve dinner is actually the most important date and celebrated as a reason to bring all family members together, even those that are living abroad. This tradition of family rejoice is followed even by young people who, nowadays, usually choose to celebrate with their families until midnight and then join their friends afterwards to go to some clubs, dance and celebrate until the early morning hours of the first day of the year.


The most typical dishes served and eaten on New Year’s Eve, Roasted Turkey – accompanied with grits (crushed soda bread, poured into turkey juice) this is the main dish on the New Year’s Eve table. Beef, lamb or pork baked or grilled are often served additionally. Baklava – sweet and full of flavor, with walnuts or dry fruits, Baklava is definitely the delight of the New Year’s Eve dinner. Traditionally, this desert is prepared by the house wives some days before the event, following an old recipe passed down from generation to generation. Rakia – as in most other countries, even in Albania alcoholic beverages like wine and beer are common beverages on this festive night, but rakia, the traditional drink, still holds a special place, especially for the older generation. The most common form of Raki is made of grapes and the liquor has always been part of important ceremonies and holds a special status in Albania.


Who enters home first? A tradition that is still practiced is connected to the person who first enters the home in the new year. It is said that if it’s a rich, good, bad person will come first home like this person will be also the whole year. But even more importantly: the entering needs to be done with the right foot first. It is a special tradition to hide a coin (one Albanian lek) in the Baklava or on the pie that is prepared for the New Year’s Eve. The one who get the coin will have a good year.

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