Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas in Bosnia 2012

2012 Christmas lunch with my in-laws!
When I rewind to twelve months ago, I could hardly have imagined that I would be spending my 2012 Christmas on the other side of the world in Bosnia - but that's exactly what eventuated.

Maybe, after such an occurrence, most people would learn not to assume anything - but I didn't. For the last few months - and even weeks - I believed Christmas Day here would be a quiet and lonely experience for myself. Boy, was I wrong.

Despite the fact the vast majority of citizens in and around Zenica are Muslims and do not celebrate Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised and heart-warmed to discover many embracing the day for their Christian counterparts.

Few in this city would have experienced such hospitality better than I. After all, I am living in a household with four other Muslims.

Though, as mentioned, I was a little tentative about how the day would unfold, I need not have worried.

Personally given the task of purchasing the necessary ingredients for the day - food, drinks and such - my 'in-laws' (for the uninitiated: they are the Muslim family I am currently living with) agreed to cook and prepare everything.

(During our early-morning Christmas Skype session, my parents back in Oz brokered a deal for me to do the dishes afterwards - but I didn't even end up doing that. Woops!)

I'll probably never gain the knowledge to
build a real snow-man, so here's me posing
with a ready-made one in downtown Zenica.
In the end, it was a perfectly-cooked lunch - featuring lamb, Russian salad, chicken and much more - reminding me of home.

The best part, however - without a shadow of a doubt - was the company I had with me. Yes, they may not have ever celebrated Christmas in their home before, but the way they embraced the occasion - all for me - made it feel as though they had celebrated it their whole lives.

In the hours since, I have tried explaining to them how thankful and appreciative I am for the hospitality and openness they showed towards me. As I told them: it was difficult being away from my Australian family on this day, but they made me feel comfortable enough to still enjoy it - and, even, to make it memorable.

Later in the evening, with our stomachs nearly bursting after all the food earlier, my fiancĂ©e and I ventured across the road to meet up with a friend of ours who, like me, celebrates Christmas.

(I should point out here that, although Zenica's population is majority-Muslim, there are many across the city who are Christian and celebrate this religious date.)

While at our friend's apartment, a number of her own companions gathered and came to visit as a way of commemorating the occasion. Only one of those four friends was a Christian.

Despite not all following the same religion, each came because, first and foremost, they are friends.

As we all sat talking and, yes, even drinking with each other for hours, it was difficult to notice any marked differences between us. True, some of us are Christian and others are Muslim, but that is where the distinctions stop.

It re-emphasised to me that, despite their personal beliefs, people will embrace or partially celebrate any religious holiday - be it Bajram, Christmas or Yom Kippur - because of their love, friendship or respect for others who do follow those respective religions.

Thank goodness. Due to this fact, I will remember my Christmas experience in Bosnia forever.

Here is a compilation of photos and clips from my 2012 Christmas experience all on the one video. Take a look:

(P.S: I know the opening text says '201' instead of '2012'. I don't know why Windows Movie Maker decided to make that change during video processing. After 3 attempts, it failed to fix itself. Nonetheless, hope you enjoy!)

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