Every year on March 14, the people of Albania celebrate Dita e Verës, translated as "The day of summer", the country's largest pagan festival. It is intended to celebrate the end of winter, the rebirth of nature, and a rejuvenation of spirit among the Albanians. Dita e Verës, is one of the oldest traditions of the country and albanians managed to preserve it and cherish although it dates back to ancient times. Since 2004, this day became a national holiday where celebrations take place all over the country but especially in Tirana, the capital of the country.
This festival origin comes from the temple of the Mountain Fairy that was built near the city of Elbasan. The Fairy 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, ever since has passed generation to generation, and Summer Day festival is known for its unique cultural heritage and traditions.
On this particular day, Tirana will have a BOOM of activities for all ages and like every year, this day will be very dynamic, full of energy and memorable. Unlike other usual days, on March 14, Tirana is very crowded with people coming from different cities also to celebrate the end of this harsh winter. The happiest ones and those who know how to have the best time are for sure the children and for this reason lots of activities for them will take place in Tirana. But it's a good chance for tourists also to learn and see themselves how us albanians celebrate and notice what's important for us.
Now, let me tell you a bit about two things that are very characteristic for this day. Whenever you say to an albanian " Dita e Veres" , the first things that come to their minds are Verore and Ballokume. Let's start with the first one ...
On March 1, the majority of albanians and especially youngsters wear this traditional bracelet called Verore which derives from the word summer and it is made of two thin braided strings usually red and white. When I was little, my mother used to do that for me and she would tell me that " Whenever you see a swallow ( a type of bird called in albanian dallendyshe), you should hung the bracelet on a tree and the birds will take it and build a nest with it " . I still do this, even on this day !
Ballokume is one of the symbols of this day. People give to each other the traditional ballokume, a sugar and corn flour cookie. Each family has its own recipe, which is considered a source of pride, especially in Elbasan. IT'S SO DELICIOUS !
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