Happy Summer Day

14 March is a festive day in Albania, the celebration of the Summer Day. It started to be celebrated massively all over the country only in the last decade, but it dates back in the ancient time in the city of Elbasani.  Now every year on March 14th , Albanians celebrate Summer Day, the country’s largest pagan festival. People celebrate the end of winter, the rebirth of nature, and a rejuvenation of spirit among Albanians. Summer Day is one of the oldest traditional day mostly celebrated in Elbasan. This festival origin is tracked to the temple of the Mountain Muse that was built near the city of Shkumbin. Muse was the goddess of hunting, forests and nature and she would come out of her temple only on March 14, which marked the beginning of the summer. This legend was passed from the generation to generation, and Summer Day festival is known for its unique cultural heritage and traditions.

This popular celebration was a tradition that today identifies the city of Elbasan, known for special cultural traditions. Although the center of this festival is around Shkumbin region, the festival is widely celebrated in Tirana and all over Albania. On this day and even since March 1st, many people usually wear a traditional bracelet called Verore (a word derived from summer) made of two thin braided strings usually red and white. The bracelet is hung on a tree branch for good luck, and is believed that birds use it to build their nests.

The families often exchange the traditional Ballokume, a sugar and corn flour cookie. Each family has its own recipe, considered a source of pride.  Some decades ago people went to Elbasan to celebrate this day, but now it became a national festival. In 2004, Summer Day became an official holiday in Albania.