In Kosovo, we note the persistence of certain customs (Zakonet), patterns of life and original practices going together with the country’s modernization and a way of life always closer to the European one, especially in the capital, Pristina. These customs and patterns of life are rather charming.
Let’s start with some examples of customs and traditions:
These traditions concern most of the time the domestic life and inter-personal relationships. This is the case for example for the whole meaning contained in the term Oda, the room that also symbolizes openness to others and above all hospitality. The term is also used to define certain rooms and spaces oftenly reserved for meetings of the men of the village or of the family. This is where the important decisions are made, which can be celebrations and weddings. In the Oda even your worse enemiy should feel welcome,if he is in the need, you should offer to him some bread, some salt, a little company and warmth. Some Oda are uniquely decorated and furnished.
During important meetings in the Oda, can also take place the swapping of the Besa, the act of giving your word which here has a very high value. The word Besa in Albanian also means « honor », which makes it particularly strong and difficult to translate into other languages. The promise has an important value, it is a promise of exchange, of forgiveness. Giving his word involves also putting his honor and therefore also that of the family at risk. This word is particularly well defined in the Kanun, medieval code of customary law written by Lekë Dukagjini, which dates from the fifteenth century, still in force in some areas of Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia. The word was associated in the Kanun also with forgiveness in cases of vendetta. Mostly , practices linked to revenge disapeared in Kosovo.
Let’s now talk about 2 examples of habits and common practices:
Among many we can mention these behavioral « traditions » : the systematic use of slippers inside homes and flats and the use of toothpick after eating.
Slippers are indeed a must as soon as you enter a flat or a home. They guaranty the hygiene and cleanliness of the place. Once you try this practice you can ‘t stand keeping your shoes inside your flat. So, don’t besurprised nor ofended if your guests bring their wn slippers, that apparently does’nt mean your flat is dirty!
Another small custom, an the end of the meals here you would oftenly see somone using discrelty and adroitly a tooth-pick.