In Macedonia, the first month of the year – January is known for the many holidays. The foreign tourists often ask how we manage to make a balance between work, holidays and finances in January.
Many foreign tourists have the possibility to visit Macedonia this time of the year, so they can assist all the traditional customs, religious and pagan beliefs and to fulfill their souls with traditional homemade food.
Among the many stories in the New Year, here comes the story of Pante Janeski, a man who spends his whole life in the village of Bistrica which is located on the slopes of Pelister. Pante and his family are related to the traditional food and drink, and January is definitely the month when the Macedonians eat and drink whatever they have harvested during the previous year.
January cannot be imagined without a brandy, especially at Christmas Eve.
In Macedonia, there are a lot of villagers who produce brandy, but today you will meet Pante, the man who makes brandy not for selling or consumption but because of his love for the process of producing the brandy. Pante says that he started making brandy 40 years ago, after he got married.
He makes his brandy (Rakija) from the grape „Loznica“ that grows in his own yard. The process of making the brandy is quite interesting and requires a lot of attention and commitment. The reason why he started making brandy is that after finishing with the making of the wine, he started using the restof the minced grape (komina) to bake the brandy.
Pante says he drank brandy with his friends when he was young, until he gets married. After he got married, he devoted himself only to the production of brandy which he uses only for guests or for his family.
As we said January is the month when we have a lot of important holidays like Christmas Eve, Christmas, Vodici ( Baptism of Jesus Christ), the Old New Year or St. Basil, during these celebrations at home with our families and closest relatives we drink brandy.
Pante Janeski lives with his family in the village of Bistrica where they celebrate the Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve table is very important for everyone who celebrates this holiday. Violeta his wife says that every year she prepares traditional, meatless food on a fasting table; starting with meatless pitulici with garlic, fish, sarma rolls of cabbage without meat, torshi, appetizers and dried raisins.
The night before the Christmas Eve, it is a tradition for the men to light up a fireand bring brandy while the women prepare the fasting cookies. The tradition with the Christmas fire brings together the people from the entire neighborhood that stay up late the night with songs and rejoicing.