Paganism, Humor, Tradition: Old Vevcani Carnival Celebrated in Macedonia

Published January 14th, 2020 - 07:00 GMT

One of the most famous village festivals held in the Balkans is the Vevčani Carnival. Each year, the Macedonian village marks the Orthodox St. Vasilij Day -- the beginning of the old Julian calendar -- with a 1,400-year-old carnival rooted in pre-Christian traditions. The festivity is dedicated to Saint Basil the Great. Traditionally, this year January will held Vevcani Carnival which is one of the oldest cultural events in Macedonia. 

The participants of the Carnival are known as “Vasiličari”. Performers revel in the streets wearing masks that reflect pagan rituals, religious issues, or political satires of current events. 

The annual carnival is a mix of pagan customs translated into modern language.  In 1993 the Carnival and the village of Vevčani officially became apart of the World Federation of Carnival Cities. 

The carnival attracts thousands of both domestic and international visitors to see the people of Vevcani disguised in elaborate masks expressing humor and sarcasm. Some of the most common costumes include devils, demons and other mythical characters. During the raucous proceedings, traditional music is played on a traditional double-reed woodwind instrument and drums. 

View as a slider
View as a list
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Costumed revellers sporting in their costumes a Freemason's square and compass flag and an assault rifle take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1,400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Costumed revellers sporting in their costumes a Freemason's square and compass flag and an assault rifle take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1,400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers - one wearing a yellow vest waving a French national flag - another with a placard which reads as " enough is enough" take part with others in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Rober

Masked revellers - one wearing a yellow vest waving a French national flag - another with a placard which reads as " enough is enough" take part with others in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Costumed revellers sporting in their costumes a Freemason's square and compass flag and an assault rifle take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1,400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers - one wearing a yellow vest waving a French national flag - another with a placard which reads as " enough is enough" take part with others in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Rober
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Costumed revellers sporting in their costumes a Freemason's square and compass flag and an assault rifle take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1,400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Costumed revellers sporting in their costumes a Freemason's square and compass flag and an assault rifle take part in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1,400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP
Masked revellers - one wearing a yellow vest waving a French national flag - another with a placard which reads as " enough is enough" take part with others in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Rober
Masked revellers - one wearing a yellow vest waving a French national flag - another with a placard which reads as " enough is enough" take part with others in a carnival procession through the south-western North Macedonian village of Vevcani, on January 13, 2020. The Vevcani carnival is 1.400 years old and is held every year on the eve of the feast of Saint Basil (January 14), which also marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Julian calendar, observed by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP