Let’s say you’re a person living in Kosovo, and you don’t know what to get your friends and family this year. Or, let’s say you’re a person in another part of the world, and you have a friend/family member in Kosovo and you want to ask them for a gift but you don’t know something good to ask for. Look no further. Here is a holiday gift guide for you!
During the holiday season, Nene Teresa Boulevard in Pristina turns into a Christmas mart. In addition to mulled wine, you can also find cute gifts. I bought several of these magnets last year and mailed them home to my family. Normally, I don’t mail stuff other than postcards to the U.S., because that can get expensive and I am a poor Peace Corps volunteer. However, magnets only cost a few Euro to send.
These beaded necklaces are popular in Kosovo. Many local women make them. They cost around 5 Euro each. Someone in my cohort has a host sister who makes them, and I’ve ordered a number for my friends and family.
Postcards are a cheap, fun way to send a holiday greeting. There is a big selection at the Pristina Christmas mart.
If you really, really like someone, you could buy them a handmade rug. I bought one for myself. 🙂
If you know someone musical, consider introducing them to the çifteli, a traditional stringed instrument.
Last, a plis (men’s traditional woolen cap) could be a fun gift for the more adventurous gentleman in your life. 🙂
During my first visit to Pristina, my language training group got to go to the top of Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa to enjoy a great view of the city. The cathedral was under construction at the time. Now, it is finished. I visited again with some friends to see the new interior.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 2.2% of Kosovars are Roman Catholic. The country is primarily Islamic (95.6%).
I live in a Catholic village. You can see photos I took of my local church here.
Living in Kosovo is the first time I have ever been landlocked. The town where I grew up shares a border river with Canada. When I lived in Boston for two years, I would sometimes spend my lunch break at the harbor. And my last apartment in Chicago (which I rented for 4.5 years) had a view of Lake Michigan from every window.
When I was home last month, my family and I went to a local arts and crafts fair along the water. As we watched a giant freighter float down the river, my Dad asked, “Are there boats like that in Kosovo?” And I said, “We don’t have water in Kosovo. It’s all mountains.”
Well, that’s not entirely true. Kosovo is mountainous and shares land borders with four other countries (Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro). However, it does have a few lakes. On Friday, my friend Chester and I visited Batlava Lake, a man-made lake.
When we arrived, we walked halfway around the lake, and decided to rent a paddleboat. (Cost: 5 Euro for one hour.)
When we were done paddling, we walked halfway back around the lake and had lunch at a restaurant on the water.
Batlava Lake was clean and quiet. I was surprised more people weren’t there. It was a nice little summer day trip. 🙂
I was in Pristina over the weekend and had a chance to wander through this street fair. I previously posted about the Pristina Bazaar, which is like an expanded farmer’s market. In comparison, clothing and rugs were sold at this fair.
I LOVED this handmade, wool rug. It was 120 Euro, which I think is very reasonable. While I have bought or been given a few little trinkets I’ll keep to remember my time in Kosovo, I’d really like a larger conversation piece for my home someday. (A “pièce de résistance,” as the French would say.)
“Oh,” I’ll tell visitors to my home, with my eyes getting misty, “I bought that in Kosovo when I was serving in the Peace Corps.”
I think I could bring a rolled-up rug with me on an airplane. The problem is, I’ll already have about 100 lbs. of luggage to wrangle when I leave Kosovo.
I walked by the tent several times to gaze longingly at *my* rug … 🙂
A day later, I saw the following music video on tv. I thought it was cool because the singers and dancers are wearing traditional clothing. The video is an interesting blend of old and new (and appears to have been filmed somewhere in the Balkans).
I didn’t know the name of the video (it’s Hatixhe, a woman’s name) so I texted my teaching counterpart for help in finding it online. She’s really good at that. I’ll be like, “What’s the video with blahty-blah?” and she’ll know exactly what I am talking about.
If you’d like to see some other music videos, here are links to other posts I’ve written:
When I visited the village of Gračanica this spring, my friend provided me with two tourists guides put out by the municipality. These glossy booklets are filled with all kinds of interesting information — history, notes on culture and religion, recipes, etc. They are accompanied by color photos, too.
I pulled the following list of superstitions from one of these booklets. This list is slightly abridged; I included my “favorite” superstitions, or the ones I found most interesting.
When the left palm itches, you’ll receive money. If the right palm itches, you’ll spend money. (Don’t we have some version of this in the U.S.?)
If a rabbit crosses a road to a traveler, it means an accident will happen. (Sounds like the old “black cat crossing your path” superstition. I hate that superstition. I love black cats.)
On Sundays and Wednesdays, you shouldn’t cut your nails. It brings trouble. (Duly noted.)
When a cat warms its back near the fire, winter will be cold. (This one just seems like common sense to me. “Oh, kitty is cold? I bet that means winter will be cold!” [Also, when is winter ever not cold, at least comparatively?])
When a rooster crows on the sunrise, weather will be bad. (If this were true, the weather would be bad every day in Kosovo … at least according to my host family’s rooster.)
When a donkey rolls in mud, it will rain. (If there’s mud, doesn’t that mean it already rained?)
If you drop a bite while bringing it to your mouth, that means the devil took it. (Yikes.)
You shouldn’t hold a child by the neck, because it will not grow. (You shouldn’t hold a child by the neck because it’s a mean thing to do.)
You shouldn’t burn a broom; you’ll get a toothache. (Why would I want to burn my broom?)
You shouldn’t jump over a coffin, because the dead will rise. (I can’t help but wonder if “coffin jumping” was ever a real problem … )