Albania, Not Just a Country on a Map
Have you ever heard of the country Albania?
Most times when I talk about the country with people they might have heard of it but couldn’t even hazard a guess where it is, but for me, Albania has become a second home.
Why is that? You might ask.
Albania is where my husband is from and where we try to vacation once a year to allow us to see all his family while getting the chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather.
Located on the Adriatic Sea Albania sits nestled right above Greece and just below Montenegro. A third world country filled with fresh foods, untouched nature and amazing people. Its culture is something I have never experienced and dates farther back anyone can remember.
Last August I was fully engulfed in this rich culture as my brother-in-law was preparing to and got married while we were there visiting.
The maybe two or three day wedding event that occurs here in North America is nothing compared to the 9-day party that happens in my husband’s home town of Shkoder, Albania when a couple marries.
What happens during these 9 days of merriment?
- Day 1
Once all decorations and invitations have been purchased, a mere days before the week begins, it’s time to decorate the house. Streamers and bows are placed everywhere on the outside of the property so that everyone passing by knows a wedding is soon approaching
- Days 1-7
Every day and night loud traditional wedding music is played and family from all over visits. Some family comes all day long while some visitors stay for a shorter time. But all are there to see the beautiful clothes, shoes purses and accessories the groom to be has bought for his bride. At the end of every night those who have returned for dinner eat, drink and dance until late in the night.
- Day 5
A few days before the weddings begin three chosen men go on behalf of the groom to the brides home where they present the purchased items to the brides family. There they sit talk and agree upon the union. This really is a formality as the wedding plans have been under way for a very long time already.
- Weddings? Its there more than one?
The answer is Yes. The groom and the bride both have weddings. The first wedding is the brides with around 300 family and friends and about 40 people from the grooms side and the following day is the grooms turn for his 300 family and friends and 40 people from the brides side.
- Day 8
The brides wedding began on Friday where we showed up at the banquet hall for 10 pm. We ate, danced and celebrated with her family until 1 am. Once we were able to leave and get into bed at home, it was around 3 am Saturday morning.
- Day 9
This was the last day of festivities, but before we can get to our party we have to head out bright and early around 8 am, driving over to the brides house singing and dancing asking her to come join our family.
- Once we have “coerced” the bride out of her house and away from her family she is now officially part of our family and we drive off in our motorcade honking and singing towards the city.
- Once we make it into the city we stop at a Mosque
where the couple plans on marrying religiously. This was such an amazing experience for me since I am Catholic and have never been in a Mosque or experienced a Muslim ceremony.
- After the Mosque we continue on our way to a beautiful restaurant high on a hill where the couple will get there wedding photos taken. Those of us in the party drive there and wait for the happy couple to finish up… Hopefully quickly as we are all very tired and dehydrated from the previous nights festivities.
- Once picture taking is finished we all head back to the family house. This is when more singing and dancing occurs and we welcomed the bride into her new home. There are a few more traditions here like the bride putting bread under arms while she walks through the door, candies thrown on the crowd and honey put on the door frame by the new bride. No one really knows why they do this just that it’s tradition.
- Finally after a bit more dancing inside the house around 3 pm the days festivities are finished and we can rest until the night party begins at the banquet hall around 7 pm.
- Our party is nearing the finish line and since its my husbands brother who got married we are expected to be dancing non stop at the wedding to get the party goers up and moving. Between dancing, eating and dancing more the evening ends around 2 am and we are able to go home and sleep.
It was a long wedding festivity and nothing like I had ever seen, but I was so greatful to be a part of their tradition. It was truly something I will never forget but honestly hope I do not have to be a part of again for at least a little while 🙂
Next vacation will hopefully be much quitter and restful!