Have you recovered from jetlag from our last adventure? I sure hope so because we are off again and this time, we are visiting Albania! Don’t forget to pack a jacket!
The country of Albania is located in southeastern Europe with the Adriatic and Ionian Seas on the western border and the countries of Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece on the eastern border. Albania is roughly the same size as our state of Maryland. The land is mostly made of mountains and hills. The weather in Albania isn’t too extreme: it is cool and wet in the winter and hot and dry in the summer. Albania occasionally endures natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and drought.
Albanian families tend to be small, with the average being two children. The Albanian husband does not generally do housework. Both husband and wife believe that the household is the wife's responsibility. Elderly parents often live with their children, where they are treated with honor and respect. From the time he is born, the oldest son is trained to become the head of family when his father dies.
This photo of Albania is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Albanian cooking is influenced by the years of Turkish rule. Lamb, rather than beef or pork, is the most common meat. Lakror (LAHK-roar), a typical dish, is a mixture of eggs, vegetables or meat, and butter wrapped in thin, many-layered pastry sheets. Another popular food is fërgesë (FUHR-ges), a dish usually made with minced meat, eggs, and ricotta cheese. Bread is a major staple of the Albanian diet.
About 88 percent of Albanians can read and write. This is one of the highest literacy rates in the Balkan region. School is mandatory from age seven through fifteen.
Albania's favorite sport is soccer (commonly called "football" in Europe). Second to football is volleyball, in which both men's and women's teams have become regional champions. Basketball and tennis are becoming more and more popular. Chess continues to gain favor, especially with children.
After a late afternoon nap, Albanians enjoy a leisurely stroll along their wide streets on their way to meet friends and relatives for a late dinner. Albanians love storytelling. In coffee shops throughout the country, men can be found entertaining each other with humorous stories or heroic tales. Television programs broadcast from Italy are also very popular. Classical music performances are well attended in Albania, and discos (dance clubs) are popular with teenagers and young adults.
Albanian women and girls are known for qëndisje (kuhn-DIS-jeh), elaborate embroidery created to decorate their dwellings. Using a small loom known as a vegël (VEH-guhl), they weave colorful rugs. Albanians produce sweaters, socks, gloves, and other items, using wool, cotton, acrylics, and fur. Lace-making, ounë me grep (WEE-nuh MEH-grehp), is another traditional folk art. Men usually work with metals such as copper, brass, and aluminum to craft decorative plates, wall hangings, and utensils. Women are increasingly involved with pottery, creating unique useful and sculptural pieces.
Albania has no official state religion. The communist government (in power from 1946 to 1992) outlawed religion in 1967, and confiscated (took away) all church property. Freedom of religion in Albania was not restored until 1989–90. More than 70 percent of Albanians are Muslims. Muslims are followers of the religion known as Islam.
Islam has five "pillars," or practices, that must be observed by all Muslims: (1) praying five times a day; (2) giving alms (money or food), or zakat, to the poor; (3) fasting from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan; (4) making the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca; and (5) reciting the shahada ("ashhadu an la illah ila Allah wa ashhadu in Muhammadu rasul Allah" ). This phrase means "I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah."
About 20 percent of Albanians follow Christianity as members of Evangelical, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches.
In 1998, war broke out in Kosovo in the nearby country of Yugoslavia. Thousands of people from Kosovo escaped to find refuge in Albania. Even though the people of Albania were poor and in need themselves, the Albanian Christians wanted to help these refugees. Albanian Christians were instrumental in providing food, water, clothing and Christ’s love to these refugees. This is a prime example of living out what the Apostle Paul described about the Macedonian church in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (ESV):
1We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Prayers for Albania
You can thank God for:
*each Albanian boy, girl and grownup who follows Jesus
*the way that Albanian Christians, even though they are poor themselves, showed His kindness and love to the refugees from Kosovo by helping and caring for them
You can ask God:
*to encourage all Christians to learn more about Him and to share His love with everyone
*to teach Christians that even though many of them are poor, He blesses all those who give to others
*to give His strength to leaders in the churches as they teach people from the Bible and encourage them to follow Jesus
*to bring peace and hope to the people of Albania and give them leaders who will rule the country wisely and fairly
Find out more about:
We’ve put together a printable about Albania for you all to use with your little ones as you pray for the country. Color in the flag, see where the country is located, and spell out the name of the country too. Keep it handy because it also has the things to thank God for about the country as well as prayer reminders.
There are so many ways to impact the world for the kingdom of God! Find out more in the book Window on the World!
Hope you enjoyed our short trip to Albania!