You probably know that Christmas celebrations are relatively a new thing in Albania as before 1990 the dictatorship didn’t allow any kind of religion manifestations. However, New Year’s Eve was the most important moment in every (and I mean in every) Albanian household and the globally known as the Christmas tree, was considered to be the New Year’s tree in communist Albania. Most of the people in the country still consider it as the new year’s symbol.
That clarified, we would like to suggest you a few ideas on how to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Albania if you happen to be here, or to inspire you to plan a new trip and come join the party.
1.Prepare the Christmas & New Year’s Tree
For some, Christmas decorations go up as soon as Halloween ends on 31st October, and so Christmas lovers embrace 1st November as the start of the festive season and begin decorating their home at this time. In Sweden Christmas trees are put up and taken down with a very Swedish zeal for precision: they must be up by Christmas Day and stay up until 12 days after Christmas! In Italy, the tradition urges everyone to prepare the tree at the 8th of December. What about Albania? As a matter of fact, Albanians put up the Christmas/New Year’s tree whenever they feel like. There’s no rule about it and everyone must feel free on celebrating on they own terms.
2. Play with Christmas themed house decoration
You can decorate your house in Albania or just enjoy the hotel/guesthouse’s decoration during this period as most of them do take good care of making you December stay as pretty as possible.
3. Attend the church celebrations
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There are several Albanian cities with Christian traditions as Shkodra and Korça that put a special attention on the church celebration of Christmas. If you visit these cities on Christmas time, you can participate the events they organize. However, Tirana is also a destination if you want to visit a church.
4. Shop at the Christmas markets
The capital of Albanians is the loudest and brightest when it comes to the end-of-year holidays. The Christmas market is focused on the city center but there are bright decorations all over the streets. There you will find Christmas lodges, offering warm drinks and food, music and long conversations, warmly dressed and decorated with lights. You can also purchase souvenirs or different product on these market.
5. Build a snowman & enjoy the snow
Northern Albania is the best option to enjoy the most natural views of snow covered fields or mountains. You can go to Razma, Vermosh, Valbona or Theth and have an incredible experience. However if you are looking for the best city and snow trip, Korça is the one.
Also for you : Top 5 things to do in Tirana in December
6. Prepare the New Year’s turkey
You might have experience with turkey dishes but you must try it on New Year’s eve when the pressure is the highest. Turkey with bread, lemon and other garnet is a tradition of Albanians holiday tables, so it’s a must if you want to enjoy these last days of the year as an Albanian.
7. Cook and taste the traditional bakllava
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Bakllava is also known as a turkish dessert but no modesty here, the Albanian one is way much better and you can verify it yourself. Most of the Albanian households will have the dish at the New Year’s table even though it is not the easiest to make. Do you want to try it? It might take a couple of days to get the right ingredients and prepare the layers. It results best when you do it with love.
8. Participate the Christmas and New Year’s Concert
Many times the city halls prepare concerts for the Christmas and New Years’s celebrations, as a lot of people are out in the streets to gather together, enjoy the lights and the fireworks.
9. Check out the New Year’s Firework
What’s a night party without a light show! The 00:00 between years offers the best firework spectacle on the Albanian sky if you don’t mind the noice. For many years, every citizen was able to access fireworks on every market so the “show” was up to each one, which sometimes resulted in incidents. For the last years, people have left it on the hands of the city hall, for a safer celebration.
10. Take a picture at the huge city Christmas Tree
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I would prefer to feel some competition between cities for the highest, biggest and prettiest Christmas Tree, but somehow no other place want to beat Tirana on this. Size is not always everything, but it says a lot of how important can be this holiday for one place or another.
11. Build the Nativity Scene at home
Despite of the fact that a nativity scene is more of an Italian tradition, celebrating Christmas means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, so recalling the Holy Day by recreating the nativity scene will give you another reason to be happy on such a day. Christmas is the gifts season for the world received the best gift ever, its Saviour.
12. Learn some Christmas Albanian
It can be easier than you think if you get some help, or just memorise these very common words and phrases:
- Krishtlindje – Christmas
- Viti i Ri – New Year
- Babagjyshi i Vitit te Ri – New Year’s Grandfather
- Gezuar Krishtlindjen! – Merry Christmas!
- Gezuar Festat! – Happy Holidays!
- Gezuar Vitin e Ri! – Happy New Year!
I hope that this blog post will inspire you to experience Albania at Christmas & New Year first-hand and that it will bring a little bit of joy to your heart.
Gezuar Krishtlindjen dhe Vitin e Ri wherever you are!