The rich Macedonian national heritage and culture is Macedonia’s best Ambassador.
One can dig anywhere in Macedonia and find remains from a different period of Macedonia’s history. From ancient cities and aqueducts, basilicas, to churches and mosques, medieval fortresses and ruins, Macedonia is full of things to do and see. UMD organizes heritage tours to Macedonia and the region to showcase the uniqueness of Macedonia’s rich history, food, and wine.
Since 2005, UMD hosts its Annual Macedonian Old-New Year’s Masquerade Celebration – “Vasilica” in Washington, D.C. UMD combines the Macedonian tradition “Vasilica” and the Vevcani Carnival to provide Washingtonians with an incredible Macedonian cultural experience. Washingtonians enjoy a unique opportunity to experience Macedonian dancing, taste traditional Macedonian cuisine, and Macedonian wines.
The Washington Post, DC Hot Spots, Bisnow’s The Scene, among other publications have featured UMD’s masquerade.
Vasilica is a centuries-old Macedonian holiday that commemorates both, the feast day of St. Basil the Great and the New Year’s Day according to the Julian calendar.
For the past 1,400 years, during this holiday, the village of Vevcani, in Macedonia holds the vibrant Vevcani Carnival – the most famous village festivals in the Balkans. People from all over Macedonia and the region come to Vevcani wearing festive costumes and masks and dance throughout the two-day event.
Another characteristic of the Macedonian heritage is the traditional folk dancing and music. UMD has sponsored the performances of Macedonian folk dance ensembles in Chicago, Melbourne, New York City, Skopje, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. offering non-Macedonians a live experience of Macedonian folk life.
In 2015, Playing ‘Til Your Soul Comes Out! Music of Macedonia – the first Macedonian Music CD produced by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings was released. The CD is a collection of field recordings made by Martin Koenig in 1968 and 1973. UMD and its partner the International Music and Art Foundation provided one-third of the funding for the CD – over $34,000.
Mr. Koenig said, “The music on this CD is part of the national treasure of Macedonia. I am happy that Macedonia is back on the map. What you hear on this CD is a people who have their feet on the ground and have embraced who they are. I think it is a good thing if everybody is able to embrace who they are.”
Macedonia has a filmmaking culture spanning well over 100 years with the start of the Manaki Brothers. Every year in the fall, Macedonia’s second largest city Bitola hosts the Manaki International Film Festival giving a preview to Macedonian and foreign films. Having this history in mind, the Macedonian community in Canada launched the Macedonian Film Festival in Toronto, which UMD has supported since 2006 with a grant..
The Macedonian Film Festival made its debut in May 2006 and is the only one of its kind, which is presented annually promoting Macedonia’s more than century old filmmaking history.
The purpose and goal of the Macedonian Film Festival is to broaden the awareness of all Canadians to Macedonian talent and culture as well as focus attention on contemporary and historical issues facing the Macedonian Diaspora.
The Macedonian Film Festival is the primary venue in Canada for presenting films by Macedonian directors, writers and producers from around the world. The Macedonian Film Festival is an event like no other in North America, bringing together Macedonians and the Canadian community to be enlightened, educated and entertained by what Macedonia has to offer on the socio-cultural global landscape.
The Festival also features films with a Macedonian theme by filmmakers, regardless of their ethnic background. We want to create and encourage dialogue, reflect the Macedonian conscience and complex identity, as well as promote our unique Macedonian culture.
The Macedonian language, which is spoken by only an estimated 2.5 million people in the world, is the backbone of the Macedonian nation and identity. Macedonians have done everything possible to preserve our linguistic heritage. The Cyrillic Alphabet founded by the Macedonian brothers Saints Kiril and Metodij from Thessaloniki (Solun) is today the official alphabet of the Macedonian language but also other Eastern European languages.
In 2009, UMD was a sponsor of the 7th Macedonian-North American Conference of Macedonian Studies at the University of Utah, and, in 2015, the 9th at the University of Chicago, which acts as a vehicle to preserve the study and the promotion of the Macedonian language. In addition, UMD has funded Macedonian-language instruction in Greece.
UMD has a partnership with the Macedonian Language E-Learning Center, an online non-profit organization dedicated to Macedonian language learning and cultural understanding worldwide. On their website, you will find online resources for learning and practicing the Macedonian language and learning about Macedonian culture. In addition to their free beginning-level multimedia tutorials for self-study, games for language learning and practice, children’s resources, and instructors’ materials, they sell books and ibooks, and offer classes and one-on-one online tutoring.
UMD is currently bringing greater awareness about Macedonian food. Since 2016, we have been promoting a Macedonia Cookbook by Katerina Nisou.
MACEDONIA Recipes from the Balkans features the most traditional and celebrated recipes of the country. Macedonian cuisine is deeply rooted in its culture and Katerina has captured the essence of this cuisine throughout her book. The philosophy of the book combines traditional ingredients and cooking techniques while modernizing these classic recipes.