HOLY 40 MARTYRS ON KRKARDASH, BITOLA - MARCH 21ST

Holy 40 Martyrs Church is located on Krkardash in Bitola in the area called Smilevski Bair. It was built 150 years ago, on the same place of the former monastery "St. Athanasius". Day of the church is every first day of spring, 21th of March.



Krkardash or Krkkardash is legendary region in northern Montmartre (Bair), where unequal struggle occurred between Macedonians and the Turkish army. When the Turkish army had conquered Bitola, the monks of the monastery gave fierce resistance fighting with cross in one hand and knife in other.
According to legends of Marco Cepenkov, there was a small fortress, in a possession of the feudal owner Toljo, which Turks closed during their conquest of Bitola. There, the entire Macedonian population fought back the Turkish army. All defenders of the fortress have fallen in bloody battle. Due to the strong and heroic defense, Turks named that region Krkkardash, which means 40 brothers. Today on this place are the Church "St. 40 Martyrs" and "St. Archangel Michael".

On October 29, 2012 with a large national gathering in Bitola, the Macedonian Orthodox Church canonized the holy 40 martyrs with solemn liturgy held in the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius.
40 white doves flied as a sign of their elevation for those who suffered for the Christian faith and sacrificed their lives during the conquest of Bitola by the Ottomans in 1385.

In honor of these 40 monks was built the Monastery "40 Machenici".

Each year on this day, in the evening hours, all citizens of Bitola visit this place and light a candle in a memory of 40 martyrs. People go there and on 22nd of March from morning until the afternoon.

VANJA LAZAROVA-MACEDONIAN FOLK LEGEND

Yesterday, on 12th of March 2017, died Vanja Lazarova, a synonym of the Macedonian folk song
 The velvet voice of one of the most talented Macedonian performers of folk music - Vanja Lazarova went silent. The 86-year old Vanja left the world, leaving behind a wealth of unforgettable musical interpretations that bring us tears.

She was born on 27th of April 1930 in the village Stracin, Kratovo. Vanja Lazarova tirelessly conquered the world with her divine voice. She had even performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and her voice have been honored by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Macedonian folk and ethno music would never been what they are without the voice of Vanja Lazarova. She worked in the opera at the National Theatre and was a member of the "Ensemble".

She was also the first Macedonian singer who recorded sheets for record companies Philips and Poligram.
She had a special contribution in her cooperation with the Macedonian band "Anastasia" when creating the music for the film "Before the Rain" by Milcho Manchevski. Her vocal is particularly amenable to the ethno synthesis.
Macedonia is grateful for all the legacy she has left to us and to the world and we will always appreciate every song she sang with her hearht. We will always tremble while listening to her "So maki sum se rodila".

Rest in peace legend!

8TH OF MARCH-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

8th of March is the day that marks the women's struggle for economic, political and social equality with men.
The idea for a special day dedicated to women originates in the early 20th century, and it specifically was insisted by the socialist movement.

The first Women's Day is marked on February 28, 1909 in the United States at the initiative of the Socialist Party of America.
In 1910, under the auspices of the Second International in Copenhagen is held the First International Conference on Women where it was decided to celebrate the International Women's Day, but without specific date being set. The following year, on March 19, 1911, the feast was first celebrated by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
On March 8th, 1913, women across Europe held peace rallies.
After the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia and on the initiative of Alexandra Kollontai, for the first time March 8th was declared a national holiday. Soviet Russia was the first country which marked March 8th in red letters on the calendar in 1917 and it became a public non working holiday in 1965.
Today traditionally male purchases flowers to female and wishes her a happy feast.
In Macedonia, every woman celebrates 8th of March, feeling special on this day. Women gather in restaurants enjoying great food and giving presents to each other. Small presents are also given to female teachers, mothers and grandmothers.

MARTENITSA FOR HAPPINESS AND HEALTH (MARTINKA)

The tradition continues, as every year, with the first day of March, many of the citizens put martenitsa on their hands or on the lapels. They believe that wearing martenitsa until 22 March will bring happiness in their lives.
Martenitsa (martinka) is a small ornament that our parents, aunts or grandmothers tied on our hands and are worn from March 1st until the end of the month, and according to other beliefs, martenitsa is tied on 14th of March. Martenitsa is an ornament made of hemp in red and white color. They are the symbol of Baba Marta (Grandma March), known to us as a harbinger of spring.
martinki


This tradition is also observed in neighboring Bulgaria (martenitsa) and Romania (martisor). Martenitsa, or red and white, symbolize the desire for good health and also announces coming of spring. According to some beliefs, the red color symbolizes blood and the white symbolizes purity, to another they symbolize life and death, then good and evil, and joy and sorrow in the life of one man.

One of the customs says that Martinka is received as a gift and that it is never bought for yourself, but it should be given to your loved ones and friends. It can be worn attached to the wardrobe or tied around the arm or neck. There are many beliefs about its removal, one being that when the first tree flourishes, martinka should be unchained and attach to it or when first common martin is seen, it should be removed from hand and placed under the first white stone, while in Bulgaria it is removed when they see the first stork and they hung it on a tree and make a wish.

There are many variants of this tradition and the symbol of Martenitsa. We do our best to preserve this tradition, which gives joy to many, especially to children. Symbol of new life, conception, fertility and, above all, a new spring. Colors that symbolize purity and harmony in life and the lives of loved ones.

Welcome to Baba Marta, and you, don't forget to give away at least one martenitsa.