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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Paganism, Humor Rule In Vevcani Carnival

Published 15 January 2013

Vevcani, a tiny town of around 2,500 people in western Macedonia, held its annual carnival this week, a spectacle 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." (10 PHOTOS)


The carnival in Vevcani is a great opportunity to enjoy some rolicking good times. (REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski)


Most sources suggest the event dates back at least 1,400 years. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)


Irreverence rules the day, with participants encouraged to let loose. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)


Participants take the pagan elements to heart, ditching the region's deep-rooted Orthodox Christianity for the two-day affair. (REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski)


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 in early January. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)


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. (REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski)


"Augustine the Fool" is one of three "official" kinds of mask in the festivities, the others being a bride or groom and a musician. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)


This year's parade included astronauts, "Augustine the Fool," multiple Santa Clauses, and...frozen peasants? (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)


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. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)


Anything's fair game for ridicule, including Santa Claus and his reindeer. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)