Days 1,038-1,040: The Macedonian Wedding


Mand’s mates Damien and Allison were getting married. Allison is a Yank, but Damien’s family hailed from the most ridiculously-named country in the world: “The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia” or FYROM for short. This lousy acronym comes courtesy of the Greeks, who are loathe to allow there to be a country called Macedonia. But now that everybody in Europe (and therefore the world) is less than happy with Greece, it’s a good time for FYROM to officially change its name to Macedonia.

If there’s one thing that Macedonians will emphasise it is the fact they are most definitely not Greek. The Macedonians have their own alphabet (one apparently nicked by the Ruskies – or so I’m told) and their own language and their own Alexander The Great. Actually, when it comes down to it, the reason Greece doesn’t want a country called ‘Macedonia’ staring at them from across the UN conference hall is that they probably fear losing bragging rights for everyone’s favourite great big gay curly-haired blonde conqueror of the known world. He was, after all, the son of Philip of Macedon.

But, come on Greece: Socrates, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, Herodotus. Pliny, Homer, Telly Savalis… you’ve got enough awesome bastards to brag about, do you really need one more?

The wedding was held in a vineyard down the Mornington Peninsular. Rather than wasting money staying the night it was decided that I would drive and Mandy would get wasted. We got there a bit early, the groom, Damien, was still in his jeans and t-shirt (he’s a reluctant suit wearer as well).

When the time came, the wedding was a traditional Macedonian affair: bearded patriarchs, weird singing and a couple of golden crowns that played a version of musical chairs with the bride and grooms respective heads.

Even though I had no idea what was going on, the ceremony was pretty cool. I was a choir boy when I was a kid (which might explain my extensive knowledge – and general distain – for all things religion) so I’ve attended a shed load of boring old British wedding ceremonies: something a bit different is always welcome.

After the I-dos (although Damien actually said “Yeah, alright” in a brilliant Aussie drawl) we tucked into the wedding scran in the adjacent function suite. As if to torment my sobriety there were bottles of whisky and bourbon waiting for us on each table. Damn you Jack, Jim and Johnnie!

We had a Macedonian band playing and during the meal we were invited to come up and join the circle dance in which everybody holds hands in a chain and circles around the bride and groom. There’s a particular step that goes with the dance, a ridiculously easy one, but I found it hard to follow – I only dance when I’m drunk or preparing for war. The band sounded very Eastern European – almost Turkish (the Turks did rule Macedonia for a good few centuries) and the guy on saxophone was making noises that I’m fairly sure a sax is not supposed to make. It should also be noted that Macedonian wedding tunes are EPIC. Every time I thought the song was winding down there was a second wind… and another 20 minutes of tune.

After the speeches, the cake cutting, the stuffing of our faces and the throwing of the bouquet it was time to take to the dancefloor for the traditional disco and bad dancing. Being sober I was tremendously conscious of how silly I looked, but I did have to throw shapes when The Beatles came on – it’s the law.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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