Among Albanians Saint Nicholas is known as Shen’Kollë and is venerated by most Catholic families, even those from villages that are devoted to other saints. The Feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated on the eve of 5 December, known as Shen’Kolli i Dimnit (Saint Nicholas of Winter), as well as on the commemoration of the interring of his bones in Bari, the eve of 8 May, known as Shen’Kolli i Majit (Saint Nicholas of May). Albanian Catholics often swear by Saint Nicholas, saying “Pasha Shejnti Shen’Kollin!” (“May I see Holy Saint Nicholas!”), indicating the importance of this saint in Albanian culture, especially among the Albanians of Malësia. On the eve of his feast day, Albanians will light a candle and abstain from meat, preparing a feast of roasted lamb and pork, to be served to guests after midnight. Guests will greet each other, saying, “Nata e Shen’Kollit ju nihmoftë!” (“May the Night of Saint Nicholas help you!”) and other such blessings. The bones of Albania’s greatest hero, George_Kastrioti, were also interred in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Lezha Albania, upon his death.
In preparation for this celebration today we went shopping for a rooster! Not just any rooster, this had to be the “perfect” rooster, a plump one who was not going to loose to much weight by tomorrow when it would meet its untimely death. Yes, I am sorry to report the rooster will be sacrificed for the good of tradition and undoubtedly a scrumptuous meal.
As luck would have it Vince is the only male in the house capable of accomplishing such a feat. He has been chosen to administer the fatal shot tomorrow, not only because someone has to do it but because a “male” should do it for good luck and who better than him? This is the tradition in Shkoder and one I must say taken very seriously, this was obvious today as we we were walking around the markets and saw dozens of roosters for sale.
I did feel a passing wave of sorrow for the poor guy, but in the end what’s the difference? We eat chicken all the time, we’re just used to buying it all nice and clean and ready for consumption. Tomorrow will be an experience, but hey, when in Shkoder….I will say a Hail Mary for the poor guy though, I’m not totally heartless.