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Paganism, Humor Rule In Vevcani Carnival

Every Orthodox New Year, Vevcani, a tiny town of around 2,500 people in western Macedonia, holds an annual carnival that allows the heavily Orthodox locals to indulge in unbridled paganism and show off their creativity. Dedicated to St. Basil the Great (Vasilij), the event turns the sleepy little hillside municipality into a "theater without borders in which every house is part of a street scene with masked actors performing their games." Here are some photos from Vevcani festivals of the past. (20 PHOTOS)

The village of Vevcani lies at the foot of the Jablanica mountain range, some 170 kilometers from the Macedonian capital, Skopje. But it might as well be the moon each January.
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The village of Vevcani lies at the foot of the Jablanica mountain range, some 170 kilometers from the Macedonian capital, Skopje. But it might as well be the moon each January.

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Most sources suggest the event dates back at least 1,400 years.
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Most sources suggest the event dates back at least 1,400 years.

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Irreverence rules the day...
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Irreverence rules the day...

...and ​participants are encouraged to let loose.
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...and ​participants are encouraged to let loose.

But there's room for "cute," too.
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But there's room for "cute," too.

Participants take the pagan elements to heart, ditching the region's deep-rooted Orthodox Christianity for the two-day affair.
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Participants take the pagan elements to heart, ditching the region's deep-rooted Orthodox Christianity for the two-day affair.

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The parade is the highlight, but the carnival turns the streets of the village into a free-for-all of improvisation that runs right through the night.
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The parade is the highlight, but the carnival turns the streets of the village into a free-for-all of improvisation that runs right through the night.

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"Augustine the Fool" is one of three "official" kinds of mask in the festivities, the others being a bride or groom and a musician.
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"Augustine the Fool" is one of three "official" kinds of mask in the festivities, the others being a bride or groom and a musician.

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Parades have included astronauts, "Augustine the Fool," multiple Santa Clauses, and...frozen peasants?
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Parades have included astronauts, "Augustine the Fool," multiple Santa Clauses, and...frozen peasants?

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Anything's fair game for ridicule, including Santa Claus and his reindeer.
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Anything's fair game for ridicule, including Santa Claus and his reindeer.

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Masked revelers "have unlimited creative freedom for 'rapture' and to 'turn the world upside-down' in the spirit of improvisation, criticism, and irony," organizers say.
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Masked revelers "have unlimited creative freedom for 'rapture' and to 'turn the world upside-down' in the spirit of improvisation, criticism, and irony," organizers say.

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