Is Bosnia The Most Festive Country of The Balkans?

Fri, 12/25/2015 - 10:40 By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute

It's that time of the year again. People around the world are celebrating all kinds of holidays - Christmas, New Years' Eve, Hanukah etc. The people of the Balkans are especially joyful in the winter times. Many nations of the Balkans have their own traditions and customs. Three main religions in the Balkans are Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Islam. Christmas is one of the biggest Christian holiday. There is a common misconception that orthodox and catholic believers celebrate this day on a different date. The truth is even more complicated - even orthodox churches have different date for their Christmases. Orthodox churches of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia celebrate Christmas by the old Julian Calendar - on Januaty 7th, while Greece, Romania and Bulgaria celebrate by the Revised Julian Calendar - on December 25th. 

Since most of the Balkan countries were under some sort of communist/socialist regime, Christmas traditions were forgotten for some time by many. Since the fall of the socialist regime, many traditions found their places in the home of the Balkan people, but somehow they got all mixed up. Decades of suppressing the religion created the new most popular day of the year - New Years' Eve - the night when Santa visit post-socialist nations' children. It is the universal holiday celebrated by all. It is the night when people exchange gifts, dress up and go out to clubs, bars and restaurants, ready for the midnight countdown and kisses. 

Besides the universal New Years' Eve, there is also a number of holidays celebrated by different nations, religions and cultures. Web portal Office Holidays gathered data on public holidays worldwide. It seems that Greece and Slovenia don't celebrate as much as their Balkan neighbors - with only 12 public holidays registered. Croatia celebrates 13 public holidays, Montenegro and Romania 14, Hungary, Macedonia and Albania 15, Bulgaria 16 and Serbia 18.

The most festive country of the Balkans certainly seems to be Bosnia and Herzegovina with 24 registered public holidays. You may find it strange for such a small country to have this number of public holidays. Yet, the situation becomes clearer when multiculturality of the BiH is taken into account. Unlike other Balkan countries, where one nationality or religion constitutes the vast majority of the country, BiH is a unique blend of Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, Christians - orthodox and catholic and Muslims. Each of them practice their own religions and celebrate religious holidays according to their beliefs. This means more holidays. In the country of such diversity, the chance is that there is some kind of holiday and celebration somewhere in the country. If your travel takes you to BiH, try to attend at least one public holiday. Don't be afraid to join the celebrations, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are known for their hospitality. 

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