St. Nicholas

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Republic of Macedonia

St. Nicholas fresco, Church of St. Clement, Ohrid, Macedonia
St Nicholas Center Collection

Sveti Nikola is one of the most popular and beloved saints in the Orthodox tradition. Because his feast day comes in the middle of Nativity fast, Macedonians whose Slava is on Nicholas' day, prepare special foods without egg, meat or milk. Boiled wheat, wine and special breads are taken to the church to be blessed. All the family's friends and relatives come—no one needs an invitation. It is a big celebration with fish, cabbage rolls filled with rice and spice, beans, and salads for everyone.

In the tradition of St. Nicholas, parents may give money gifts, particularly coins, to children.

Slava is primarily a religious observance that honors a home's patron saint, making it natural to keep the teachings and ordinances of the day, which require fasting, following Nicholas' faithful example. It may also be an individual's Name Day (or Imenden). If so, the celebration is more modest than a Slava and only close friends and relatives would be invited.

* The country's name has been under dispute with Greece since 1992. The constitutional name is Republic of Macedonia and it is listed by the UN as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM, pending resolution of the dispute. At least one hundred and seven countries recognize the constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia," ten use "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) for official purposes, and twenty, mostly without diplomatic relations with the state, have taken no position on the name.

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