“It’s important to preserve these traditions,” says Bozhidar Dejkoski, a 25-year-old micro-electronics researcher who has spent the day dressed as a ballistic missile. ‘The Army of the Republic of Vevčani’ is written on the side of his silver fiberglass projectile costume.
Nearby, children in red mud-streaked outfits, face coverings and cone hats are flailing a newly-shorn pigskin, causing little flesh lumps to patter against the bonnet of a beat-up Mercedes. A bemused-looking dog is in the driving seat, wearing a military hat.
The annual carnival in the North Macedonian village of Vevčani is in full, boozy swing. Since it started around 1,400 years ago, it has developed from pagan roots into a modern political satire event, showcasing the village’s fiercely independent spirit—and an attitude that nothing controversial is off limits.
“There isn’t another carnival in the world like this,” a man in fluffy white trousers, making him look half-man, half-lamb, tells me.