15 weird things Macedonians do

Living in Macedonia

Since I live here for over 1,5 year and have known Macedonians for more than 5 years, I can honestly say that there are a few things that are slightly weird to me. Actually I am used to it now and some things don’t even surprise me anymore. So here are 15 things that were weird to me in the beginning of getting to know Macedonians.

  1. Macedonians use Rakija for everything! Drinking for sure, but is your nose stuck? Sniff Rakija. Mosquito bite? Put Rakija on it. Clean the windows of your car? Use Rakija. You have a small wound? Put Rakija on it.
  1. Macedonians will always ask how much money it was. You have a new watch? Oh how much was it? New car? How much was it? It seems to be a very important question here.
  1. It is all about food. Main question of the day: what is for lunch and dinner? Also they love just talking about food.
  1. For some reason it is perfectly normal to have carpets everywhere, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Even in the kitchen you can find carpets.
  1. Everyone has a nickname, that doesn’t even sound like their real name. But then again, most Macedonians are not very creative with names. Most common names here are Aleksandar and Ana. So yes, there has to be a nickname in order not to call the wrong Aleksandar…
  1. They always complain about not having money, yet all the cafés are always full.

“The danger of promaja!”

  1. Promaja, is draft in your house and according to older generations, this will definitely make you sick and is very bad for you so keep windows and doors shut!
  1. They don’t understand you when you say: I am full. Especially the baba’s in this country will stuff you with food and they wont take no for an answer.
  1. They change completely when they get into the car. Macedonians are in general very lovely people, but they drive like they are suicidal. And I’m not even overreacting on this.
  1. Sidewalks are used for parking instead of walking. And never drive on the right lane, since that is meant for busses and cars that just pull over there. Or start to drive backwards on a boulevard, yes also this is possible in Macedonia.
  1. Do not serve cake at the beginning of a birthday celebration. Here cake is served at the end of a birthday party and after the guests ate the cake they go home. In the Netherlands it’s actually the other way around.
  1. When Macedonians invite you to their homes, always bring snacks, either sweet or salty, even when you just go to your friends home. It is like some unwritten rule of a thank you for their hospitality.

“Burek is breakfast!”

  1. Burek with yoghurt is considered to be a good breakfast according to the Macedonians.
  1. Don’t be surprised when the older generations can understand Spanish. Back in the day they were watching Spanish TV shows and learned the language. Nowadays it seems everyone is watching Turkish TV shows, which are seriously very badly synchronised.
  1. Almost 40% of the population in Macedonia wastes their last money on betting on sports. And you can find around 800 betting houses… Which is crazy since only 2 million people live here!


Curious for my next post about kafana’s? Check it out!

68 thoughts on “15 weird things Macedonians do

  1. OMG, you’re bang on. I’m Macedonian living abroad and some of these things we do I was able to realize after I moved out of the country.
    Macedonians use to be so much nicer, but unfortunately, due to the economy and political situation, people changed on worse.
    I read all of your posts:
    1. Macedonian is a really hard language to learn, my husband has problem with prepositions and masculine/ feminine.
    2. We do work, we work long hours and often salaries are late or even don’t get paid, so they stop caring.
    However, enjoy Macedonia and the food (I miss it so much).

    1. Haha thanks for your comment! It is great to read to you enjoy my blog 🙂
      I know the situation that Macedonia is in now and there is this tension in the whole country.
      1. I totally get your husband! I have the exact same problem, it just doesn’t make sense to me haha!
      2. I have worked in a textile company where they get low payments and work long and hard, but the people there are one of the nicest people I have met!
      Thanks again, have a nice day! Cheers

  2. I am Russian leaving in Macedonia, that’s why I also noticed all these things you are writing about) I can say I was really shocked by their diet, but luckily now in my surrounding there are a lot of Macedonians who are into healthy food, vegetarians and vegans as well.

    Number 6 is my favourite))) It’s such a different lifestyle from what I got used to! We usually eat out once a week in Russia or less. But I’ve already notice that I am becoming “Macedonian” in a way)) The atmosphere of this country inspires you to spend a lot of time in a cafe, relax and enjoy the life))

    And I totally agree with you about driving! That IS crazy. I’m scared all the time. And the roads here are much more narrow that I got used to. When I see a bus on the other side of the road approaching us and we don’t have a space even for a small car to pass by (in my opinion), they are so relaxed, considering a distance of 10 cm between vehicles as a very safe one. and there’s no need to slow down or worry.

    But I like when people bring smth tasty when they visit family or friends. There’s a deep meaning in it and that’s a nice tradition that makes relationship warmer. I just love it.

    1. Yes, I completely agree with you!
      I noticed that last year everyone started to care more about their health, which is really good.
      That is also why I love Macedonia, they live outside. Dutch people don’t go out that much in restaurants, just like in Russia once a week or less. Here we go in cafes all the time!
      The worst are probably the taxi drivers, sometimes I am seriously grateful to make it home alive!!
      Thank you for your comments and hope you will keep enjoying my posts

    1. Thank you for your comment! I do like my life a lot here in Macedonia, so I hope to stay here for many more years.
      Have a nice day.

    1. Beste groeten van eene Macedoner dat is nu terug naar Macedonie… veel zonziek…
      Mnogu pozdrav na site Makedonci vo Holandija. Jas si se vrativ posle mnogu godini, puknav za sonce kjebapi i burek. Se` drugo e za nikade tuka.

  3. This is like the best description of Macedonians I have ever read in my life. This made me laugh so much. So thank you for that. Keep up the good work!

  4. U forget to type something else for the cars . ” In macedonia is even posible cars to hold on in 2 lineway road and start a conversation for 5- more more time , meanwhile blocking the road ( : ” i think u know what I am saying ( sory if my english is not good )

    1. Haha I totally agree with you! That actually happens a lot here… I should make a part two with another 15 weird things Macedonians do, because there is a lot to write about! Thanks for your comment!

  5. I love your description of Macedonia! Few more uses of rakija: We rub it on our children’s body skin to bring down high body temperature, we drink few sips after cleaning the house for body desinfection 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment! I knew about the body temperature, but omg I did not know about after cleaning the house haha that’s amazing. Really Macedonians keep amazing me, in a good way of course!

  6. Absolutely totally agree with you! I said to my husband ..”you see?! This is what i been talking about! haha (he is Macedonian )…..Although to me it seems like you are describing Kavadarci!! You totally nailed it!.
    I could easily add…
    16. Neighbours visits are part of the everyday life following by a Tursko Kafe and neighbour “news”.

    1. Haha good to hear it sounds familiar to you as well! And thank you for your comment 🙂
      And you are totally right about number 16, my boyfriend started laughing when I told him what you wrote!
      Thanks again and have a nice day

  7. Wow i’m 15 year old Macedonian girl, and i never noticed that we do things like this. But this is so true. I haven’t been laughing like this for way too long. Love your blog. Continue writing. Cheers 🙂

  8. My only question here is: what’s wrong with burek and jogurt for breakfast?! (or any meal of the day for that matter lol)

    1. Haha I was waiting for this comment. And there is nothing wrong with it when you like to eat it for breakfast, just it is to heavy for me 🙂

  9. Wat een heerlijk goed stuk, goed geschreven……ene….je moeder zit hier te glunderen op de bank. Supertrots!

  10. i am 100% Macedonian, born grew and live there till i was 27 years young. i got married to my wife Danica , she is also Macedonian and we came here in California 42 years ago. i was blessed ever since i remember, did have best childhood, our people were most hospitable before i left, i heard that from many people that were from other nationality, Skopje and rest of the cities were clean, very few cars, was little pollution . after 1990s , i notice big changes, my people were not friendly as before, pollution , corruption, for my people there life become difficult, prices on everything went a lot.and i do agree with your comments, is all true.

    1. Thank for sharing your story! I have heard about how life was before the ’90’s, I really wish I could have seen that.
      And I can’t imagine how big the changes are for you, since I have seen Skopje change within 5 years a lot!
      Thank you for your comment and have a nice day!

  11. You forget to write about different dialect, for example, Strumica and Berovo is 55 km apart and the people of this two cities barely understand each other. Keep writing. Love the post

    1. Thank you for your comments! That is so true, I work with people from other towns… And I notice the dialect and it’s really confusing!

  12. Hi girl!

    I am also (temporary) living abroad and I guess Italy is very common country for that.
    On the other hand, this is the first blog I see for my country and it is really interesting to read somebody else’s opinions. I will follow your blog now. 🙂
    I think that moving away for love is a very brave thing to do and, as Macedonians would say, “I am taking my hat of for you for that”. This means that I appreciate it.
    By the way, people in Italy usually ask me what fruit am I when I tell them that I am from Macedonia (the fruit salad here is called liked that) . 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I wish you a lot of luck in your life.

    1. Hi Katina,
      Oh I love Italy, if I ever get the chance to move there I would definitely consider that!
      Thank you for your comment and following my blog, it is really nice to hear that it’s appreciated!
      Emigrating for love is something I thought I would never do, but I’m so happy and grateful that I did it.
      Haha I know about the Macedonian salad, that’s actually a very weird question to ask you 🙂
      Have a great day and wish you all the best!

  13. My favourite is the Promaja!!! So true, and do not get me started about walking the floor without shoes or slippers :).

    1. An old lady passes by her building and sees a group of teenagers sitting on the stairs of the entrance.
      -Hey kids what are you doing?
      -Nothing much, taking drugs.
      -Could you go elsewhere? You’re sitting on bare cement there.

  14. Hi Lise,

    I lived in Macedonia for almost a year and I go back for holidays every year. Some of the things you mention where a bit weird to me in the beginning, too. But there are some points that are not only typical for Macedonians, so I don’t quite agree:

    5. Nicknames – it is very common in all Slavic countries (I am from Poland) that we use shortens for our names. I do not see anything exceptional about this, it is very practical :). I used to live in Spain for a long time too and Spaniards do the same (where e.i. Maria del Carmen is Mari Carmen, etc).
    If you look at it from the other side – the Dutchmen use roepnamen, which is really weird to foreigners! 😉

    12. Bringing snacks along – a typical thing to do in Poland or in Spain as well. It is something natural not to come empty handed and is a part of savoir vivre.

    I totally agree on the point 6 and 15 – it has never stopped amazing me!
    And I would add one more thing – Macedonians are almost always late and if – by any miracle – they would call you they’d be running late, you should multiply the time by 2 because they will not make it on time anyway 😉

    1. Hi Marta,

      Thank you for comment! I totally agree with you.
      I know some of the points are not typical Macedonian. But I never lived in an Eastern European country or Balkan country, so this is actually the first time I’m seeing them like this. And yes we have roepnamen which I get, can be weird to foreigners haha!
      I also wrote in point 12 that it is an unwritten rule of appreciation for getting invited, plus showing up empty handed is not done (I think this is a great thing btw). In my country we don’t bring snacks, unless that person is asking us or we call them to ask if they need anything (unless we go to a birthday of course)
      And you are so right about Macedonians being late, I am still not used to that, so thank you for the tip! 😉

  15. Hi Lise
    It is so fun to read your blog! My husband is Macedonian but we live and work in Norway 🙂 I totally relate to most of the stuff you write especially the driving part. I remember the last time we were in Macedonia and my father in-law was driving us and i seriously thought we were gonna die :-D. Also i remember asking my husband when people actually do work because the cafe`s were full of people throughout the day! I found my Macedonians to be very friendly and kind people. I also couldnt keep up with the food and eating all the time 🙂 considering it is rude to say no if you are offered food while visiting someone. So i ate alot and gained a kilo or two by the end of our 10 days visit. I look forward to exploring Macedonia and thanks for tips about Macedonia!



    1. Hi Rahab,
      Thank you for your comment, I am glad you can relate to it!
      The driving here is crazy sometimes, and it keeps amazing me. Mostly I think I am going to die when I go with a taxi…
      I really enjoy being around Macedonians, all of them that I have met are really friendly and helpful people!
      In the beginning I was also trying to keep up with the eating, and not to offend people. Now I just eat slow so my plate isn’t empty! Because as soon as it’s empty they will put food on my plate again haha.
      Have fun exploring Macedonia! If you have any questions just ask 🙂


  16. Wait!!! Like, you’re actually living in Macedonia?? It means, you just moved here from Netherlands? :)) Well, that’s something very strange. You must have your own business here or something. ‘Cause, yet, every second person in this country want to move abroad (I mean every second person from the half of the population that are still here and not moved). According to the current situation here, I’d take that chance, too.
    By the way, in which city do you live in?
    Greetings from Bitola 🙂

    1. Haha your comment made me laugh, thank you! But yes I moved here a little over 1,5 year ago, for love…
      And I do get this reaction a lot from Macedonians actually, but I really like it here.
      Also I don’t have my own company, it just so happened I found a good job here in Skopje, where I also live 🙂
      Greetings, Lise

      1. Yeah, I was kidding a bit 🙂 I read your article later so I’m familiar with your story. I mean, Macedonia isn’t that bad as it looks, just the people (under that I mean the governments elected by the people) make it worse every year. Skopje is, in fact, Macedonia, so I’m sure you’ve found something good for living, and I’m sure you liked it. Never mind, I’m glad you’ve found yourself happy here and I wish you all the best.
        By the way, I forgot to mention before, the ‘Promaja’ rule them all. Haha 😀

  17. 1. Rakija contains a very high percantage of alcohol, and alcohol is known to be used for all those things you mentioned.

    4. Carpets are a normal thing to have in a lot of countries in the world. I would say it’s probably more weird not to have than to have one.

    5. The nicknames that don’t make sense to you are actually a short version of people’s names that probably also don’t make sense to you, so the only ones you remembered are the most common and globally recognized names. Nicknames as you call them are common in every language and culture.

    6. Macedonia’s economy is really bad and a big percentage of the population struggles to get by. Cafes are always full because a coffee costs approximately 1-2 euros depending on the city and part of town, and that’s probably the most entertainment these people can afford. You don’t see them travelling to distant exotic places because they can barely afford to pay their bills.

    8. We do understand when you say you’re full – but it is a norm over here to keep offering food because it is also a norm to refuse it the first couple times it is offered to you.

    9./10. There are people who go over the speed limit in every country and that’s why traffic accidents and tickets are globally recognized terms.

    11. Cake is served at the end because it is sweet and makes you full. What is served first is usually snacks and dinner, and it’s also globally known that dessert comes last.

    12. This is not true at all. I am a Macedonian and never bring snacks anywhere I go. If anything, the host is the one that should always serve you snacks/soda/coffee when you go to their house.

    14. The only people watching Turkish shows are the retired people who don’t know how to use the internet or have anything better to do. That’s not even half of Macedonia’s population.

    15. I would like to know where you got that number. I strongly believe it’s just something you invented because 4 of the 10 people you know like to that.

    My point is that this article is garbage (for a lack of better word). It’s based on nothing, but assumptions you have about a culture and people you think you know. If you consider these things weird, then I suggest you keep a more open-mind about the next place you decide to visit. All of these over-generalizations and stereotypes paint a very wrong picture and are quite offensive to Macedonians.

    1. Dear Bojana,

      First of all thank you so much for taking the time to write your comment.
      Second I am very sorry if this article offended you in any way. If you just had taken the time (like you did writing your comment) to read just one or two other posts you could have seen how I feel about Macedonia and Macedonians. And that I do not mean to paint a wrong picture of them and I’m sorry you understand it that way.
      Have a nice day.

      1. Omg Bojana seriously chillax!!! It’s supposed to be entertaining and not offensive, and to some extent it is funny.
        1. It is true that we use rakija to heel wounds and it does contain a high percentage of alcohol, but on the other hand so do many other countries have alcohol and they dont use it to heel wounds, so maybe that is why it is weird for people to see that.

        9/10 The way that we drive in our country is absurd!!! It is not normal at all, and anyone coming from a country where u follow rules and regulations it looks like they had come to “the India” of Europe. I live in Germany and people to exceed the speed limit, but by 10 kph not 40 kph, and accidents in Macedonia happen because pedestrians arent careful enough and because cars dont stop at zebras or care to follow the rules.

        8. Here when u tell someone that you r full they respect it and dont nag you to eat more. this thing is, however, more like a Balkan thing, it doesnt happen only in Macedonia

        14. You would be surprised Bojana by the number of young people (well more like in their 30ies, 40ties) who watch Turkish soap operas, and it is not their fault, but it is like the only type of entertainment available on national TV and it is not people’s fault for having no other option

        15. Are you serious?? I would say betting houses are even fuller than coffeeshops. It is ridiculous to have sooo many of them. In Munich, I have seen so far like 3 betting houses and I have seen lots of Munich. You can always find one in Skopje and in smaller towns. Seriously, it sounds like you dont go much out of your house.

        The drinking coffee is also true….i miss that here, people are always in a hurry or they are just antisocial, be we do that on another level haha….And it is weird how we say we dont have money but we always manage to find some for coffee…. Bojana, to people who come from countries where u usually work during the day it is weird to see full cafes in the working hours, especially when everyone complains about not having a steady job.

        Lise, I loved the article, you can see that you enjoy the country and that u have come across some habits of ours that really are weird for foreigners. I myself am going through this, but in Germany and it is weird how you notice some things that the locals dont, cuz they seem to be normal, so i know that it is hard. I hope u enjoy it and that Macedonia treats you better than it treats most of its people!! :))

        p.s. another thing is the amount of pharmacies we have!! lt is not normal aaat all! Take a look the next time you walk the streets, at least of Skopje, cuz thats where i come from. I had never noticed this, but my German bf pointed it out to me and then i started realising it. It seems to be as though we aree the sickest nation in the world lol

        1. Sofi, Thank you so much for your awesome reply and understanding what I meant!
          And you are so right about the amount of pharmacies! Especially in the evening you notice them (when you get blinded by the lights), although it comes in handy for when you actually need medication, there is always one close to your home here in Skopje 🙂
          I wish you all the best in Germany and hope you enjoy it as much there as I do here.
          Have great day!

    2. Bojana,
      She wrote this article as someone that has moved to Macedonia recently , not someone born into the country. So yes she will have a different view. This blog post based on her experiences and opinion (not a scholarly article) is quite precise and well written. There is nothing offensive nor is she saying every single person is the same. Number 6 is totally true , regardless of what anyone says. I grew up in Macedonia and have traveled all over the world (different continents) and no other city has cafes as full as the ones in Macedonia. It’s a part of our culture. You’d rather spend your daily 20 denari on coffee because it seems tidious to save that money on the daily. I currently live in Vancouver and have never seen any places downtown as full as the places in Skopje. Travel abroad you’ll see. I have brought Canadian / American friends along that will agree as well.
      I am also insuring you that this is written to be shared in a positive way, not to be interpreted in an offensive and negative manner. After all, she mentioned that Macedonians are lovely people, so maybe try to fit into that “stereotype”.

      1. Thank you Simona for your feedback and that you understand about what this post is and how it is meant 🙂
        Have a nice day!!

    3. 16. Almost all macedonians know each other in some weird way. If you don’t know someone personally, your neighbor definitely knows all about him. Or he turns out to be a relative! 🙂

      Luckily I know you and your stiff and buthurt personality, so I understand where your frustrations are coming from. Cheer up girl! 🙂

    4. I am Macedonian living abroad and I think Lise has right in many things she has written. I suppose you come from a part of Macedonia where different cultural patterns are in place. I am quite shocked that you dont tolerate other patterns and views.
      I dont know how old you are but I am 33 and I was taught from my family in Skopje never to go to anyone without bringing something. There is even a proverb for this: ne se ide na gosti so g’z u ruki! (You dont go to pay a visit with ass in your hands)what it means you should always bring something. Supposedly you dont know this one.
      Secondly Macedonians do complaint a lot.
      Lise has also right about betting about football. Unfortunately even I have 2 family members adicted to betting. It is bad! Instead of finding an efficient occupation they go to bethouses. But Lise still found positive in it. She appreciate how Macedonians live for its day and dont plan.
      Carpets are not very in Western European countries.
      I do not understand why you find the description about sitting in the coffees bad. Lise has just described the whole thing and was not negative. She also pointed out what she does not like in the Netherlands.
      It is sad that you dont appreciate her view. Me I believe Lise you are a good observer.

    1. Thank you Marta!
      I am very aware that I’m in the Balkans, that’s why I’m used to most of those things by now 😉

  18. Albania’s been on my bucket for a while now, I can’t wait to go there. Maybe I’ll pop over to the Tirana for a day or two? Or just save it for next time, when I’ll be able do the country justice.

  19. ljubov ova pismo! jas sum od avstralija i zhiveam vo skopje za posledniot godina. mislam isto vo vrsko so makedonija i toa e mnogu smeshno! izvini mojot makedonski e loshi mnogu lele!!

    ajdeeee Chao!

  20. This is so accurate I’m Macedonian currently living in Germany and we still drive crazily even if you’re in a car with a child it’s normal to drive above 110 and we do use rakija for everything mostly for drinking but we dont care and thanks for reminding me of all the fun that was going on in Macedonia

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