The Macedonians (Macedonian: Македонци; transliterated: Makedonci), also known as Macedonian Slavs or Slavic Macedonians, are a South Slavic ethnic group native to the region of Macedonia. They speak the Macedonian language, a South Slavic language. About two thirds of all ethnic Macedonians live in the Republic of Macedonia and there are also communities in a number of other countries.
The origins of Macedonians are varied and rich. In antiquity, much of central-northern Macedonia (the Vardar basin) was inhabited by Paionians who expanded from the lower Strymon basin. The Pelagonian plain was inhabited by the Pelagones, an ancient Greek tribe of Upper Macedonia; whilst the western region (Ohrid-Prespa) was said to have been inhabited by Illyrian peoples. During the late Classical Period, having already developed several sophisticated polis-type settlements and a thriving economy based on mining, Paeonia became a constituent province of the Argead – Macedonian kingdom. Roman conquest brought with it a significant Romanization of the region.
During the Dominate period, 'barbarian' federates were at times settled on Macedonian soil; such as the Sarmatians settled by Constantine (330s AD) or the (10 year) settlement of Alaric's Goths. In contrast to 'frontier provinces', Macedonia (north and south) continued to be a flourishing Christian, Roman province in Late Antiquity and into the early Middle Ages. Linguistically, the South Slavic languages from which Macedonian developed are thought to have expanded in the region during the post-Roman period, although the exact mechanisms of this linguistic expansion remains a matter of scholarly discussion. Traditional historiography has equated these changes with the commencement of raids and 'invasions' of Sclaveni and Antes from Wallachia and western Ukraine during the 6th and 7th centuries. However, recent anthropological and archaeological perspectives have viewed the appearance of Slavs in Macedonia, and throughout the Balkans in general, as part of a broad and complex process of transformation of the cultural, political and ethno-linguistic Balkan landscape after the collapse of Roman authority. The exact details and chronology of population shifts remain to be determined. What is beyond dispute is that, in contrast to Bulgaria, northern Macedonia remained "Roman" in its cultural outlook into the 7th century, and beyond. Yet at the same time, sources attest numerous Slavic tribes in the environs of Thessaloniki and further afield, including the Berziti in Pelagonia. Apart from Slavs and late Byzantines, the settlement of Kuver's Pannonian "Bulgars"- a mix of Roman Christians, Bulgars and Avars- populated the Keramissian plain around Bitola in the late 7th century. Later pockets of settlers included Magyars in the 9th century, Armenians in the 10th–12th centuries, Cumans in the 11th–13th centuries, and Saxon miners in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Having previously been Byzantine clients, the Sklaviniae of Macedonia probably switched their allegiance to Bulgaria during the reign of Empress Irene, and was gradually incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire after the mid-9th century. Subsequently, the literary and ecclesiastical centres in Ohrid, not only became a second cultural capital of medieval Bulgaria, but soon eclipsed those in Preslav.[dubious ] Many aspects which now define Macedonian culture are a culmination of the so-called "Byzantine commonwealth" which consisted of Medieval Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian Empires. Cultural, ecclesiastical and political developments of Slavic Orthodox Culture occurred in Macedonia itself.
Anthropologically, Macedonians possess genetic lineages postulated to represent Balkan prehistoric and historic demographic processes. Such lineages are also typically found in other South Slavs, especially Bulgarians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Montenegrins, but also to the Greeks and Romanians.
The large majority of Macedonians identify as Eastern Orthodox Christians, who speak a South Slavic language, and share a cultural and historical "Orthodox Byzantine–Slavic heritage" with their neighbours.
The concept of a "Macedonian" ethnicity, distinct from their Orthodox Balkan neighbours, is seen to be a comparatively newly emergent one. The earliest manifestation of a Macedonian identity emerged in the late 19th century, and this was consolidated by Yugoslav governmental policy from the 1940s. However, modern researchers recognize that all nations are modern constructs. Even ethnic groups with long recorded history are characterized by marked discontinuity with the 'ancient past' and 're-invention' during Romantic Nationalism movement. Heather Rae summarizes that Macedonian identity "is no more or less artificial than any other identity. It merely has a more recent ethnogenesis – one that can therefore more easily be traced through the recent historical record".
During the formative Middle Ages, there was no distinct ethno-political Macedonian identity. References to "Macedonians" were varied, from geographical to administrative one. The Byzantine historians categorized the numerous Slavic tribal unions on the early Medieval Balkans as 'Sclavinias' and often associated them with particular tribes. In the ninth century, Theophanes the Confessor reported that the emperor Constantine V captured the Macedonian Sklavinias (small, tribal statelets of the Slavs who settled the Balkans after the collapse of the Avars) in the year 758–759. The modern Macedonian historians have described it as some kind of primary ethno-political entity, but such views are doubtful. These Slavs did not have sufficient state-building skills, they failed to unite them and in the 8th century they were reconquered by the Byzantines. On the other hand, recent publications by Florin Curta describe the great Slavic invasion of the 6th and 7th century on the Balkans and particularly in Macedonia as a 19th-century historical exaggeration. Thus, the construction of the first South Slavic states was organized by the Croats, Serbs and Bulgars and the local (Slavic) population in today Republic of Macedonia was conquered by the Bulgars in the middle of the 9th century.
The Slavs were self-governing in their extended families and districts (županije), and their tribal organization was sufficiently strong to abolish Byzantine rule in the Balkans… But these Slavs did not have marked state-building skills. The construction of the first South Slavic states was accomplished under, the auspices of subsequent invaders, who gave the rise of three South Slavic matrix-nationalities. These were Croats, Serbs and Bulgars.
Yet, throughout the Middle Ages and up until the early 20th century the Slavic speaking majority in the Region of Macedonia were more commonly referred to (both, by themselves and outsiders) as Bulgarians. However, in pre-nationalist times, terms such as "Bulgarian" did not possess a strict ethno-nationalistic meaning, rather, they were loose, often interchangeable terms which could simultaneously denote regional habitation, allegiance to a particular empire, religious orientation, membership in certain social groups. Similarly, a "Byzantine" was a Roman subject of Constantinople, and the term bore no strict ethnic connotations, Greek or otherwise. Overall, in the Middle Ages, "a person's origin was distinctly regional".
After the final Ottoman conquest of the Balkans by the Ottomans in the 15th century, all Eastern Orthodox Christians were included in a specific ethno-religious community under Graeco-Byzantine jurisdiction called Rum Millet. The belonging to this religious commonwealth was so important that most of the common people began to identify themselves as Christians. However ethnonyms never disappeared and some form of primary ethnic identity was available. This is confirmed from a Sultan's Firman from 1680 which describes the ethnic groups in the Balkan territories of the Empire as follows: Greeks, Albanians, Serbs, Vlachs and Bulgarians.
The rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century brought opposition to this continued situation. At that time the classical Rum Millet began to degrade. The coordinated actions, carried out by Bulgarian national leaders supported by the majority of the Slavic population in today Republic of Macedonia in order to be recognized as a separate ethnic entity, constituted the so-called "Bulgarian Millet", recognized in 1870. At the time of its creation, people living in Vardar Macedonia, were not in the Exarchate. However, as a result of plebiscites held between 1872 and 1875, the Slavic districts in the area voted overwhelmingly (over 2/3) to go over to the new national Church. Referring to the results of the plebiscites, and on the basis of statistical and ethnological indications, the 1876 Conference of Constantinople included most of Macedonia into the Bulgarian ethnic territory. The borders of new Bulgarian state, drawn by the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano, also included Macedonia, but the treaty was never put into effect and the Treaty of Berlin (1878) "returned" Macedonia to the Ottoman Empire.
With the creation of the Bulgarian Principality, the Macedonian upper stratum had to decide whether Macedonia was to emerge as an independent state or as part of a "Greater Bulgaria". During this period, the first expressions of ethnic nationalism by certain Macedonian intellectuals occurred in Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul, Thessaloniki and St. Petersburg. The activities of these people was registered by Petko Slaveykov and Stojan Novaković The emergence of Macedonian identity was a relatively nascent and nebulous affair because Ottoman rule (a regimen which suppressed liberalism and nationalism) had lasted there the longest, the subsequent propaganda and armed conflict between newly formed Balkans monarchies (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia) over Macedonian territory, and indeed the cultural similarity between Macedonians and their closest neighbours (especially Bulgarians).
The first prominent author that propagated the separate ethnicity of the Macedonians was Georgi Pulevski, who in 1875 published Dictionary of Three languages: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, in which he wrote:
What do we call a nation? – People who are of the same origin and who speak the same words and who live and make friends of each other, who have the same customs and songs and entertainment are what we call a nation, and the place where that people lives is called the people's country. Thus the Macedonians also are a nation and the place which is theirs is called Macedonia.
On the other hand, Theodosius of Skopje, a priest who have hold a high-ranking positions within the Bulgarian Exarchate was chosen as a bishop of the episcopacy of Skopje in 1885. As a bishop of Skopje, Theodosius renounced de facto the Bulgarian Exarchate and attempted to restore the Archbishopric of Ohrid and to separate the episcopacies in Macedonia from the Exarchate. During this time period Metropolitan Bishop Theodosius of Skopje made several pleas to the Bulgarian church to allow a separate Macedonian church, he viewed this as the only way to end the turmoil in the Balkans.
In 1903 Krste Petkov Misirkov published his book On Macedonian Matters in which he laid down the principles of the modern Macedonian nationhood and language. This book is considered by ethnic Macedonians as a milestone of the ethnic Macedonian identity and the apogee of the process of Macedonian awakening. In his article "Macedonian Nationalism" he wrote:
I hope it will not be held against me that I, as a Macedonian, place the interests of my country before all... I am a Macedonian, I have a Macedonian's consciousness, and so I have my own Macedonian view of the past, present, and future of my country and of all the South Slavs; and so I should like them to consult us, the Macedonians, about all the questions concerning us and our neighbours, and not have everything end merely with agreements between Bulgaria and Serbia about us – but without us.
Misirkov argued that a standard Macedonian literary language, in which Macedonians should write, study, and worship, should be created, based on the dialects spoken in the west-central part of what is today Republic of Macedonia; the autocephalous Archbishopric of Ohrid should be restored; and the Slavic people of Macedonia should be identified in their Ottoman identity cards (nofuz) as "Macedonians".
The next great figure of the Macedonian awakening was Dimitrija Čupovski, one of the founders of the Macedonian Literary Society, established in Saint Petersburg in 1902. In the period 1913–1918, Čupovski published the newspaper Македонскi Голосъ (Macedonian Voice) in which he and fellow members of the Petersburg Macedonian Colony propagated the existence of a Macedonian people separate from the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs, and sought to popularize the idea for an independent Macedonian state.
After the Balkan Wars, following division of the region of Macedonia amongst the Kingdom of Greece, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Serbia, and after World War I, the idea of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation was further spread among the Slavic-speaking population. The suffering during the wars, the endless struggle of the Balkan monarchies for dominance over the population increased the Macedonians' sentiment that the institutionalization of an independent Macedonian nation would put an end to their suffering. On the question of whether they were Serbs or Bulgarians, the people more often started answering: "Neither Bulgar, nor Serb... I am Macedonian only, and I'm sick of war."
The consolidation of an international Communist organization (the Comintern) in the 1920s led to some failed attempts by the Communists to use the Macedonian Question as a political weapon. In the 1920 Yugoslav parliamentary elections, 25% of the total Communist vote came from Macedonia, but participation was low (only 55%), mainly because the pro-Bulgarian IMRO organised a boycott against the elections. In the following years, the communists attempted to enlist the pro-IMRO sympathies of the population in their cause. In the context of this attempt, in 1924 the Comintern organized the filed signing of the so-called May Manifesto, in which independence of partitioned Macedonia was required. In 1925 with the help of the Comintern, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (United) was created, composed of former left-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) members. This organization promoted in the early 1930s the existence of a separate ethnic Macedonian nation. This idea was internationalized and backed by the Comintern which issued in 1934 a resolution supporting the development of the entity. This action was attacked by the IMRO, but was supported by the Balkan communists. The Balkan communist parties supported the national consolidation of the ethnic Macedonian people and created Macedonian sections within the parties, headed by prominent IMRO (United) members. The sense of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation gained credence during World War II when ethnic Macedonian communist partisan detachments were formed. In 1943 the Communist Party of Macedonia was established and the resistance movement grew up. After the World War II ethnic Macedonian institutions were created in the three parts of the region of Macedonia, then under communist control, including the establishment of the People's Republic of Macedonia within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ).
Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, the issue of Macedonian identity has again emerged. Nationalists and governments alike from neighbouring countries (especially Greece and Bulgaria) espouse to the view that the creation of a Macedonian ethnicity is a modern, artificial creation. Such views have been seen by Macedonian historians to represent irredentist motives on Macedonian territory. Moreover, western historians are quick to point out that in fact all modern nations are recent, politically motivated constructs based on creation "myths". The creation of Macedonian identity is "no more or less artificial than any other identity". Contrary to the claims of Romantic nationalists, modern, territorially bound and mutually exclusive nation states have little in common with the large territorial or dynastic medieval empires; and any connection between them is tenuous at best. In any event, irrespective of shifting political affiliations, the Macedonian Slavs shared in the fortunes of the Byzantine commonwealth and the Rum millet and they can claim them as their heritage. Loring Danforth states similarly, the ancient heritage of modern Balkan countries is not "the mutually exclusive property of one specific nation" but "the shared inheritance of all Balkan peoples".
A more radical and uncompromising strand of Macedonian nationalism has recently emerged called "ancient Macedonism", or "Antiquisation". Proponents of such views see modern Macedonians as direct descendents of the ancient Macedonians. This policy is facing a criticism by academics as it demonstrates feebleness of archaeology and of other historical disciplines in public discourse, as well as a danger of marginalization of the Macedonian identity.
The national name derives from the Greek term Makedonía, related to the name of the region, named after the ancient Macedonians and their kingdom. It originates from the ancient Greek adjective makednos, meaning "tall", which shares its roots with the adjective makrós, meaning the same. The name is originally believed to have meant either "highlanders" or "the tall ones", possibly descriptive of these ancient people. With the conquest of the Balkans by the Ottomans in the late 14th century, the name of Macedonia disappeared as a geographical designation for several centuries. The name was revived just during the early 19th century, after the foundation of the modern Greek state, with its Western Europe-derived obsession with Ancient Greece. As result of the rise of nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, massive Greek religious and school propaganda occurred, and a process of Hellenization was implemented among Slavic-speaking population of the area. In this way, the name Macedonians was applied to the local Slavs, aiming to stimulate the development of close ties between them and the Greeks, linking both sides to the ancient Macedonians, as a counteract against the growing Bulgarian cultural influence into the region. As a consequence since 1850s some Slavic intellectuals from the area, adopted the designation Macedonian as a regional identity, and it began to gain a popularity. Serbian politics then, also encouraged this kind of regionalism to neutralize the Bulgarian influx, thereby promoting Serbian interests there. During the interbellum Bulgaria also supported to some extend the Macedonian regional identity, especially in Yugoslavia, to prevent the Serbianization of the local Slavs. Ultimately the designation Macedonian, changed its status in 1944, and went from being predominantly a regional, ethnographic denomination, to a national one.
The history of the ethnic Macedonians has been shaped by population shifts and political developments in the region of Macedonia. Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, the decisive point in the ethnogenesis of the South Slavic ethnic group was the creation of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia after World War II, a state in the framework of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
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The vast majority of ethnic Macedonians live along the valley of the river Vardar, the central region of the Republic of Macedonia. They form about 64.18% of the population of the Republic of Macedonia (1,297,981 people according to the 2002 census). Smaller numbers live in eastern Albania, northern Greece, and southern Serbia, mostly abutting the border areas of the Republic of Macedonia. A large number of Macedonians have immigrated overseas to Australia, United States, Canada and in many European countries: Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Austria, among others.
The existence of an ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece is rejected by the Greek government. The number of people speaking Macedonian dialects has been estimated at somewhere between 10,000 and 250,000. Most of these people however do not have an ethnic Macedonian national consciousness, with most choosing to identify as ethnic Greeks or rejecting both ethnic designations. In 1999 the Greek Helsinki Monitor estimated that the number of people identifying as ethnic Macedonians numbered somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000, while Loring Danforth estimates it at around 10,000. Macedonian sources generally claim the number of ethnic Macedonians living in Greece at somewhere between 200,000–350,000.
Since the late 1980s there has been an ethnic Macedonian revival in Northern Greece, mostly centering on the region of Florina. Since then ethnic Macedonian organisations including the Rainbow political party have been established. Rainbow has seen limited success at a national level, its best result being achieved in the 1994 European elections, with a total of 7,263 votes. Since 2004 it has participated in European Parliament elections and local elections, but not in national elections. A few of its members have been elected in local administrative posts. Rainbow has recently re-established Nova Zora, a newspaper that was first published for a short period in the mid 90's, with reportedly 20,000 copies being distributed free of charge. Lately, there have been reports of unofficial Macedonian language lessons, at a small scale, in Florina, Thessaloniki and Edessa.
Within Serbia, Macedonians constitute an officially recognised ethnic minority at both a local and national level. Within Vojvodina, Macedonians are recognised under the Statute of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, along with other ethnic groups. Large Macedonian settlements within Vojvodina can be found in Plandište, Jabuka, Glogonj, Dužine and Kačarevo. These people are mainly the descendants of economic migrants who left the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in the 1950s and 1960s. The Macedonians in Serbia are represented by a national council and in recent years the Macedonian language has begun to be taught. The most recent census recorded 22,755 Macedonians living in Serbia.
Macedonians represent the second largest ethnic minority population in Albania. Albania recognises the existence of a Macedonian minority within the Mala Prespa region, most of which is comprised by Liqenas Municipality. Macedonians have full minority rights within this region, including the right to education and the provision of other services in the Macedonian language. There also exist unrecognised Macedonian populations living in the Golo Brdo region, the "Dolno Pole" area near the town of Peshkopi, around Lake Ohrid and Korce as well as in Gora. 4,697 people declared themselves ethnic Macedonians in the 1989 census.
Bulgarians are considered most closely related to the neighboring Macedonians, indeed it is sometimes said there is no clear ethnic difference between them. As regards self-identification, a total of 1,654 people officially declared themselves to be ethnic Macedonians in the last Bulgarian census in 2011 (0,02%) and 561 of them are in Blagoevgrad Province (0,2%). 1,091 of them are Macedonian citizens, who are permanent residents in Bulgaria. Krassimir Kanev, chairman of the non-governmental organization Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, claimed 15,000–25,000 in 1998 (see here). In the same report Macedonian nationalists (Popov et al., 1989) claimed that 200,000 ethnic Macedonians live in Bulgaria. However, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee stated that the vast majority of the Slavic population in Pirin Macedonia has a Bulgarian national self-consciousness and a regional Macedonian identity similar to the Macedonian regional identity in Greek Macedonia. Finally, according to personal evaluation of a leading local ethnic Macedonian political activist, Stoyko Stoykov, the present number of Bulgarian citizens with ethnic Macedonian self-consciousness is between 5,000 and 10,000. The Bulgarian Constitutional Court banned UMO Ilinden-Pirin, a small Macedonian political party, in 2000 as separatist. Subsequently, activists attempted to re-establish the party but could not gather the required signatures to this aim.
Significant Macedonian communities can also be found in the traditional immigrant-receiving nations, as well as in Western European countries. It should be noted that census data in many European countries (such as Italy and Germany) does not take into account the ethnicity of émigrés from the Republic of Macedonia:
Other significant ethnic Macedonian communities can also be found in the other Western European countries such as Austria, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, etc. Also in Uruguay, with a significant population in Montevideo.
The culture of the Macedonian people is characterized with both traditionalist and modernist attributes. It is strongly bound with their native land and the surrounding in which they live. The rich cultural heritage of the Macedonians is accented in the folklore, the picturesque traditional folk costumes, decorations and ornaments in city and village homes, the architecture, the monasteries and churches, iconostasis, wood-carving and so on. The culture of Macedonians can roughly be explained as a Balkanic, closely related to that of Serbs and Bulgarians.
The typical Macedonian village house is presented as a construction with two floors, with a hard facade composed of large stones and a wide balcony on the second floor. In villages with predominantly agricultural economy, the first floor was often used as a storage for the harvest, while in some villages the first floor was used as a cattle-pen.
The stereotype for a traditional Macedonian city house is a two-floor building with white façade, with a forward extended second floor, and black wooden elements around the windows and on the edges.
The history of film making in the Republic of Macedonia dates back over 110 years. The first film to be produced on the territory of the present-day the country was made in 1895 by Janaki and Milton Manaki in Bitola. From then, continuing the present, Macedonian film makers, in Macedonia and from around the world, have been producing many films.
From 1993 to 1994 1,596 performances were held in the newly formed republic, and more than 330,000 people attended. The Macedonian National Theater (drama, opera, and ballet companies), the Drama Theater, the Theater of the Nationalities (Albanian and Turkish drama companies) and the other theater companies comprise about 870 professional actors, singers, ballet dancers, directors, playwrights, set and costume designers, etc. There is also a professional theatre for children and three amateur theaters. For the last thirty years a traditional festival of Macedonian professional theaters has been taking place in Prilep in honor of Vojdan Černodrinski, the founder of the modern Macedonian theater. Each year a festival of amateur and experimental Macedonian theater companies is held in Kočani.
Macedonian's music has an exceptionally rich musical heritage. Their music has many things in common with the music of neighboring Balkan countries, but maintains its own distinctive sound.
The founders of modern Macedonian painting included Lazar Licenovski, Nikola Martinoski, Dimitar Pandilov, and Vangel Kodzoman. They were succeeded by an exceptionally talented and fruitful generation, consisting of Borka Lazeski, Dimitar Kondovski, Petar Mazev who are now deceased, and Rodoljub Anastasov and many others who are still active. Others include: Vasko Taskovski and Vangel Naumovski. In addition to Dimo Todorovski, who is considered to be the founder of modern Macedonian sculpture, the works of Petar Hadzi Boskov, Boro Mitrikeski, Novak Dimitrovski and Tome Serafimovski are also outstanding.
In the past, the Macedonian population was predominantly involved with agriculture, with a very small portion of the people who were engaged in trade (mainly in the cities). But after the creation of the People's Republic of Macedonia which started a social transformation based on Socialist principles, a middle and heavy industry were started.
The Macedonian language (македонски јазик) is a member of the Eastern group of South Slavic languages. Standard Macedonian was implemented as the official language of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia after being codified in the 1940s, and has accumulated a thriving literary tradition.
The closest relative of Macedonian is Bulgarian, followed by Serbo-Croatian. All the South Slavic languages, including Macedonian, form a dialect continuum, in which Macedonian is situated between Bulgarian and Serbian. The Torlakian dialect group is intermediate between Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian, comprising some of the northernmost dialects of Macedonian as well as varieties spoken in southern Serbia.
Most Macedonians are members of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. The official name of the church is Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric and is the body of Christians who are united under the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, exercising jurisdiction over Macedonian Orthodox Christians in the Republic of Macedonia and in exarchates in the Macedonian diaspora.
The church gained autonomy from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1959 and declared the restoration of the historic Archbishopric of Ohrid. On 19 July 1967, the Macedonian Orthodox Church declared autocephaly from the Serbian church, a move which is not recognised by any of the churches of the Eastern Orthodox Communion, and since then, the Macedonian Orthodox Church is not in communion with any Orthodox Church.
Between the 15th and the 20th centuries, during Ottoman rule, a number of Orthodox Macedonian Slavs converted to Islam. Today in the Republic of Macedonia they are regarded as Macedonian Muslims, who constitute the second largest religious community of the country. A small number of Macedonians belong to the Protestant and the Roman Catholic churches.
Macedonian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of the Balkans—reflecting Mediterranean (Greek) and Middle Eastern (Turkish) influences, and to a lesser extent Italian, German and Eastern European (especially Hungarian) ones. The relatively warm climate in Macedonia provides excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse.
Famous for its rich Shopska salad, an appetizer and side dish which accompanies almost every meal, Macedonian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of its dairy products, wines, and local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija. Tavče Gravče and mastika are considered the national dish and drink of the Republic of Macedonia, respectively.
Macedonian nationalism Is a new phenomenon. In the early twentieth century, there was no separate Slavic Macedonian identity
On the other hand, the Macedonians are a newly emergent people in search of a past to help legitimize their precarious present as they attempt to establish their singular identity in a Slavic world dominated historically by Serbs and Bulgarians. ... The twentieth-century development of a Macedonian ethnicity, and its recent evolution into independent statehood following the collapse of the Yugoslav state in 1991, has followed a rocky road. In order to survive the vicissitudes of Balkan history and politics, the Macedonians, who have had no history, need one.
The key fact about Macedonian nationalism is that it is new: in the early twentieth century, Macedonian villagers defined their identity religiously—they were either "Bulgarian," "Serbian," or "Greek" depending on the affiliation of the village priest. ... According to the new Macedonian mythology, modern Macedonians are the direct descendants of Alexander the Great's subjects. They trace their cultural identity to the ninth-century Saints Cyril and Methodius, who converted the Slavs to Christianity and invented the first Slavic alphabet, and whose disciples maintained a centre of Christian learning in western Macedonia. A more modern national hero is Gotse Delchev, leader of the turn-of-the-century Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), which was actually a largely pro-Bulgarian organization but is claimed as the founding Macedonian national movement.
Despite the recent development of Macedonian identity, as Loring Danforth notes, it is no more or less artificial than any other identity. It merely has a more recent ethnogenesis – one that can therefore more easily be traced through the recent historical record.
Unlike the Slovene and Croatian identities, which existed independently for a long period before the emergence of SFRY Macedonian identity and language were themselves a product federal Yugoslavia, and took shape only after 1944. Again unlike Slovenia and Croatia, the very existence of a separate Macedonian identity was questioned—albeit to a different degree—by both the governments and the public of all the neighboring nations (Greece being the most intransigent)
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