Monday, December 27, 2010

Cultural Heritage

Sarajevo is a city of wonders to me. You need a manual to guide you here. Anything may happen when least expected particularly when the customs are concerned. Look at the two photographs, for instance. The first baby on Father Christmas's knees is my husband and the photograph was  taken in December 1978 in Sarajevo and the second one showing Milou with Djeda Mraz (as Father Christmas is recognised here) was taken two weeks ago here in Sarajevo. Apart from the fact that Milou takes after her super dad, there is something more blazing in both photos: Having a Santa Claus set up to take pictures with children regardless of their faith - an old Christmas tradition in Bosnia.
Milou's super dad with Djeda Mraz (1978)
My husband is a Muslim and muslims do not celebrate Christmas and so there would practically be no place for Father Christmas in his life. However, it has been extraordinarily normal to have a photograph with Father Christmas here in Sarajevo and all of my friends here (Bosniaks, Serbians and Croatians) told me they all have one in their family albums. Interesting, isn't it? I think the former Yugoslavian multiethnic society which was based on the concept of brotherhood and unity worked so well  that even today it is almost impossible to tell which custom/tradition belongs to whom. Customs from different ethnicities in the country were always welcomed as they are now. Well, after the war (1992-1995), nationalist overtones about anything concerning the "other" have been heard more frequently than before but the Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian cultures have melted in such pots so harmoniously that it would be unfair to label this custom (having a picture with Father Christmas) only as a Christian custom. 

Milou with Father Christmas (2010)

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