07 May Grandparents tell us about Ederlezi (St.George’s Day)
We’ve heard lots of stories about the meaning of Ederlezi (also known on the Balkans as Gjurgjovden, which is the Christian variety of the Muslim holiday that happens at the same time) and this year it was no different. Either way, we enjoy listening to all of the experiences that the elderly share with us, or in this case, the grandparents of children involved in our projects.
Mr. Imer, Ms. Said and Ms. Usein told us about their oldest memories related to Ederlezi and how tradition has changed throughout time. If back in the day Ms. Usein needed to sneak out of home to meet with the guy she fancied, telling her parents that she went to get water from the local water fountain (a common gathering place for young men and women), nowadays it’s much more common to see youth holding hands and mingle in public.
When it comes to Gjurgjovden, Mr. Imer says, the tradition has always been about buying new clothes and proudly parading around the town in your newest outfit. It’s a tradition that has remained throughout time and works both for the citizens of Shuto Orizari (especially the children), and for the local clothes bazaar which is widely popular in the whole country.
Ederlezi for the Roma population is celebrated as the spring-welcoming holiday. Those who celebrate this popular holiday (which could last up to four days), thoroughly clean their houses, buy new clothes for their children and bathe them under a tree, using hand-picked flowers and herbs to symbolize mother nature’s impact on spiritual cleanliness. After their traditional bath, the children kiss their older relatives’ hands and get a little bit of money as a blessing. The ones who can afford it, buy and roast lamb and share it with their neighbors who weren’t privileged enough to buy one themselves.
Either way, Ederlezi (also known as st. George’s Day) is an important holiday for the community. Even though most Roma families are unemployed, a lot of them get relatively small social benefits and have multiple children, this holiday serves to remind us all that we can find happiness in the little things and that life is a celebration and it can be improved with lots of positive energy and a good attitude, – says Ms. Said.