'Villages have two Patron Days, one in winter and one in summer, on which visitors, friends and relatives come to the village and celebrate with music, dancing and food. There is also a special celebration at church, during which the priest blesses a large, elaborately decorated bread (kolak) and the 'hosts' of the Patron Day receive a portion of the loaf. The rest is distributed to the congregation.
In Wollongong all of us from the village of Velusina still celebrate St George's Day because St George is our most important village patron. Each year a different family hosts the event.
Macedonians also have a Name Day instead of a birthday, so on St George's Day all the men from Velusina called Gjorgi (George) have a double celebration. It's a family event. We invite all the people that invited us for their Patron or Name Day. I took a Name Day here in Australia and made a new tradition to accommodate the new circumstances. I chose the Name Day of the two scholars, St Kyrill (Cyril) and St Methodius, who invented the Cyrillic alphabet, and because 'Methodius' is close to 'Mendo'. My mother called me Mendo because mendo means to change - she was hoping that the next child would be a girl.' Mendo
Photo 1 & 3: Name Day celebrations at Mendo and Elena's home where tables are laid out with beautifully prepared food.
Photo 4: The villagers from Velusina who migrated to Australia live mainly in Melbourne, the Illawarra, Sydney and Newcastle. A bi-annual event was organised in Gundagai, a half-way point between Sydney and Melbourne, as a way of bringing them together for a weekend of laughter, enjoyment and tears.' Mendo
Photo 6 & 8: Patron Day celebrations at church where the Patron Day hosts receive their portions of the bread.
Photo 5: Mendo (right) with his brother Slavko (left) and cousin Vasco.
Photo 2 & 7: St Kyrill and St Methodius, from an icon belonging to Mendo and Elena.